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Full text of "Fanning's narrative; being the memoirs of Nathaniel Fanning, an officer of the revolutionary navy, 1778-1783, ed. and annotated by John S. Barnes"

THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVAL HISTORY 

SOCIETY CERTIFIES THAT THIS COPY OF THE 

NARRATIVE OF NATHANIEL FANNING IS 



NO 3.L 



OF THREE HUNDRED COPIES, PRINTED FOR 
THE SOCIETY ONLY 



OFFICERS 

OF THE 

NAVAL HISTORY SOCIETY 
1911-1912 



PRESIDENT 

REAR-ADMIRAL STEPHEN B. LUCE, U. S. N. 

VICE-PRESIDENT 

REAR-ADMIRAL FRENCH E. CHADWICK, U. S. N. 

SECRETARY AND TREASURER 

ROBERT W. NEESER 

247 Fifth Avenue, New York City 

BOARD OF MANAGERS 

JAMES BARNES 

REAR-ADMIRAL F. E. CHADWICK, U. S. N. 
COLONEL WM. C. CHURCH 

LOYALL FARRAGUT 

REAR-ADMIRAL S. B. LUCE, U. S. N. 

CHARLES T. HARBECK 

GRENVILLE KANE 
JOHN FORSYTH MEIGS 

ROBERT W. NEESER 

HERBERT L. SATTERLEE 

REAR-ADMIRAL C. H. STOCKTON, U. S. N. 

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 

JAMES BARNES 
GRENVILLE KANE 

REAR-ADMIRAL S. B. LUCE, U. S. N. 

JOHN FORSYTH MEIGS 

ROBERT W. NEESER 



PUBLICATIONS 

OF THE 

NAVAL HISTORY SOCIETY 
VOLUME II 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

BEING 

THE MEMOIRS OF 
NATHANIEL FANNING 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

BEING THE 

MEMOIRS OF NATHANIEL FANNING 

AN OFFICER OF 

THE REVOLUTIONARY NAVY 

1778-1783 



EDITED AND ANNOTATED 

BY 

JOHN S. BARNES 

LATE LIEUTENANT COMMANDER, U. S. N. 



NEW YORK 

PRINTED FOR THE NAVAL HISTORY SOCIETY 

BY THE DE VINNE PRESS 

M DCCCC XII 



Copyright, 1912, by 
THE NAVAL HISTORY SOCIETY 



The Preface to this volume was written in 1910 
and the editing of the Narrative was almost com 
pleted before the death of the Editor in 1911 



240826 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

narrative of Nathaniel Fanning, which is here 
JL republished by the Naval History Society, forms 
the earliest known autobiography of a man who served 
with John Paul Jones as an officer on the Bon Homme 
Richard, Serapis, Alliance, and Ariel. Having been a 
prisoner of war in England, he was exchanged, made 
his way to France, and enlisted on the Bon Homme 
Richard at Nantes, in March, 1779. He was appointed 
a midshipman by Jones, and, by his own account, was 
additionally employed by Jones as secretary or clerk. 

The biographers of Jones have made but scant use of 
the narrative. Mackenzie, in his life, says that he makes 
"guarded use of it"; at the same time, he quotes from it 
frequently. Buell, in his life, pretends to quote from it, 
but his so-called quotations are pure inventions, not one 
word of which is to be found in the narrative. He states 
that his quotations are from an edition published in New 
London, Connecticut, in 1825, enlarged and corrected 
from the original edition, also published in New Lon 
don in I806. 1 No such editions were ever published in 

1 At the time of this publication the Editor informed Mr. Buell of 
his error regarding Fanning, to which he made no reply. His book is, 
however, so replete with pure fabrications, inventions, falsifications, that 
it can only be classed as an interesting romance through which runs but 
a slender thread of truth, and its title a misleading assumption unworthy 
to be called a history. Buell s death occurred before his exposure as a 
romanticist. 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

New London or elsewhere, and it is plain that Buell 
never saw the narrative. Buell also states that Fanning 
was alive in 1846, and drew prize-money in that year 
for his services on the Bon Homme Richard. He prob 
ably bases this upon the statement in Sherburne s life 
(New York, 1851), that sixty-six dollars was paid to 
Nathaniel Fanning in that year. The fact is, that Fan 
ning died in Charleston in 1805, then fifty years of age; 
the prize-money paid was probably given to some rela 
tive or heir claiming it under the act of Congress 
awarding prize-money at that late date to the officers 
and crew of the Bon Homme Richard and Alliance. 

The second title-page of Fanning s narrative, in 1808, 
which replaced the original one of 1806, first disclosed 
the author s name. That Fanning s book should have 
been published anonymously will be accounted for by 
a perusal of it. Jones was at that time a popular hero 
in this country and abroad, and it may reasonably be 
supposed that in 1806 Fanning s heirs did not desire 
that his name as its author should appear, as his com 
ments upon his old commander s private character, and 
the scandalous stories he relates of Jones s conduct on 
shore, might have involved him in serious trouble with 
the survivors of the times of which he wrote. 

Upon Fanning s death, his heirs or representatives 
probably found among his effects the manuscript, and 
printed it as if for the author, with the title-page of 
1806, and with the dedication to his friend John Jack 
son. Two years later the title-page was replaced by 
that of iSoS, 1 which was pasted upon one of the fly 
leaves, the dedication and twenty-four pages were 

1 This title-page is here reproduced on opposite page. The title-page 
of 1 806 will be found at the beginning of the Narrative itself. 



MEMOIRS 



LIFE 



CAPTAIN NATHANIEL FANNING, 



AMERICAN NAVAL OFFICER 



WHO SERVED DURING 



PART OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION 



UNDER THE COMMAND OF 



COMMODORE JOHN PAUL JONES, Esq. 

AND WHO LATELY DIED AT CHARLESTON 

IN THE 

SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES 



COPY-RIGHT SECURED. 

NEW YORK PRINTED. 

1808. 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

expurgated, and the book then offered for sale. 1 
The type, pagination, and paper of both are iden 
tical. 

The extremely rare copies of either now to be found 
would show that a very limited number were printed, 
and few got into circulation. 

In his preface, Fanning attributes the lack of literary 
merit in his narrative to his "having had but barely 
a common education," and having no pretensions 
to scholarship, having followed the sea for his liveli 
hood all his life. Yet it will be seen that he had no 
small opinion of his literary abilities, in that he in 
dulges in descriptions of scenes and places; the habits, 
manners, and appearance of the people with whom he 
was associated or met; discusses political events bearing 
upon the relation of the colonies with the European 
powers, with the ignorance of exact facts that naturally 
comes from his limited opportunities or sources of in 
formation. He even goes so far as to incorporate in his 
narrative a novel, founded upon the experiences of an 
acquaintance with the hero and heroine of the story, 
which occupies pages of his narrative, and which noth 
ing less than a vain confidence in his powers as a writer 
could have led him to print. The tale is a silly love- 
story, and has been ruthlessly omitted here as it is in the 
expurgated copy. However, it is apparent that Fan 
ning was a close observer of the events in which he par 
ticipated, and his relations of them are full of interest. 
He states that he kept a diary or journal on which he 
depends for the marked accuracy of the dates and trans 
actions, always corroborated by the short logs of the 

1 The Editor has seen only one copy of the narrative with the sub 
stituted title-page, which is in the library of the Boston Athenaeum. 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

ships upon which he served. At the same time, the 
elaborations of these events are naturally due to his 
recollections, which, as he was only fifty years of age, 
must have been vivid and clear. 

All of the reliable biographers of John Paul Jones 
Sherburne, Sands, Mackenzie and the Edinburgh 
publication of 1830, have based their histories upon the 
voluminous correspondence of Jones, which has been 
preserved, and the greater part of which is now in the 
Congressional Library. 1 The story of the finding of 
much of it in an ash-barrel in New York by Mr. Ward, 
and the transmission of the great bulk of Jones s papers 
by his will to his sister, Mrs. Taylor, and the bringing 
of them to this country by Miss Jeannette Taylor, his 
niece, is related in the prefaces to the several lives re 
ferred to, where the principal letters, reports, and state 
ments of Jones are printed in full, and cover all of the 
events in his life which have made him famous. 

The action between the Bon Homme Richard and 
the Serapis has been described by him many times. 
Naval historians have accepted his account as the most 
truthful and accurate indeed, the only one of any im 
portance. Lieutenant Dale is said to have given his 
story to Sherburne, entirely from memory, in his ex 
treme old age. Lieutenant Henry Lunt has added to 
the log of the Serapis an account of the battle. With 
these exceptions, Tanning s circumstantial account of 
the fight which made Jones famous the world over, is 
the only one written by a participant. 

Jones and Dale describe it from their standpoints as 

1 From time to time there have come to light many of Jones s letters 
that could not possibly have been seen by any of his biographers. He 
was a prolific letter-writer and prided himself upon his English and style. 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

captain and first lieutenant, while Fanning does from 
his, in the more humble position of a midshipman 
stationed in the main-top, where, with fifteen marines 
and four sailors, he claims to have been largely instru 
mental in bringing about the surrender of the Serapis, 
by casting the bomb which created the explosion on her 
gun-deck. 

The story of the fight as told by Fanning occupies 
nearly twenty-one pages of his narrative, and is the most 
circumstantial and detailed account in existence. In all 
essential particulars it does not greatly vary from 
Jones s or Dale s relations. Allowances must be made 
for his youth, his subordinate position, and for the pos 
sible and probable exaggerations of the value of his 
own services. His own preface sufficiently explains the 
crudities of his narrative as well as the coarseness and 
vulgarity of his expressions, not uncommon with the 
sailors of his period, even those of higher rank and in 
more important commands. 

His references to the official relations of Jones with 
the several governments and their representatives are 
evidently based upon his recollections of Jones s corre 
spondence, which, as his secretary or clerk, passed 
through his hands, as well as upon gossip and rumors 
which prevailed in gun-room and steerage, and in the 
resorts of seamen on shore known in those days, as 
now, as "galley news." 

It will be remembered that the Jones correspondence 
and his reports were not made public in 1806, and little 
or none of it could have been at Fanning s disposal. 
With the exception of Andre s life of Jones, 1 no real 

1 Memoires de Paul Jones, ecrits par lui-meme en Anglais et traduits 
sous ses yeux par le citoyen Andre. Paris, An VI (1798). 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

biography of Jones was in print, therefore the narra 
tive must have been drawn from his journals and from 
his memory of his personal experiences. 

Nathaniel Fanning was born in Stonington, County 
of New London, State of Connecticut, in the year 1755. 
He was the eldest of eight sons of Gilbert Fanning of 
that town. The second son, Gilbert, and his brother 
Thomas, were captured while on a cruise in the priva 
teer Weasel, and were confined in the Jersey prison- 
ship, on which loathsome hulk Gilbert died. Thomas 
Fanning, through the intervention of his uncle, Colonel 
Edmund Fanning, 1 commanding a British regiment in 
New York, was released from the prisonship, was ex 
changed, and returned to his parents in Connecticut. 
All of the others followed the sea, and in 1830 were all 
deceased except Edmund Fanning, a namesake of his 
uncle, and a celebrated navigator and explorer in the 
Pacific Ocean. From the preface of his voyages round 
the world, this account of the Fanning family is taken. 2 

In 1838 Edmund Fanning published another book, 3 
largely devoted to discussing the origin of the Wilkes 
Exploring Expedition, of which he claims to have been 
the principal instigator, and that he should have been 
its commander. His comments upon this expedition 
are of great interest. In addition to relating the several 

1 This Colonel Edmund Fanning, the uncle of Nathaniel and Edmund, 
was a loyalist, entered the British service, commanded a British regi 
ment in New York, was promoted to the rank of general, and died at 
his residence in Portman Square, London, in 1813. 

2 Voyages Round the World, with Selected Sketches of Voyages to 
the South Seas, etc., performed under the Command and Agency of the 
Author, etc., etc., etc. By Edmund Fanning. New York, 1833. 

3 Voyages to the South Seas, Indian and Pacific Oceans, North West 
Coast, etc., etc. By Edmund Fanning, author of "Fanning s Voyages." 
New York, 1838. 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

voyages of the ship Hope to the Fiji Islands, and of the 
ship Tonquin, with the narrative of the massacre of the 
crew, and the blowing up of the Tonquin by Lieutenant 
J. Thorn of the United States Navy, Edmund Fanning 
proceeds to give: 

"An account of the Noted and Bloody Naval Battle fought on the 
22d of September, 1779, between the Good Man Richard, under the 
command of John Paul Jones, and the Serapis, commanded by Cap 
tain Parson, by an officer in the United States Navy to whom chance 
gave a station in that battle, that conspicuously tended to the Victory. 
With the gallant Captain Parson s honourable and liberal remarks to 
Captain Jones on the result." 

Edmund adds in a note: 

"It is believed, that such a particular and correct account of this 
noted battle has never yet been presented to the public. // was found 
among this officer s papers after his decease." 

Then follows the account, evidently made up from, or 
constructed upon the account in, the narrative, but not 
to be recognized in any respect as copied from it. Ed 
mund apparently attempts to improve upon his brother s 
narration omits much of it, alters the phraseology, 
and, in fact, makes an entirely different story, while 
keeping closely to the general facts. Edmund further 
states that he found among his brother s papers the fol 
lowing certificate to the American Congress, which 
"was forwarded to his Excellency President Van Buren, 
and will no doubt rest on the files in the Department at 
Washington" : 

"CERTIFICATE TO CONGRESS 

"I do hereby certify, that Nathaniel Fanning, of Stonington, State 
of Connecticut, has sailed with me in the station of midshipman eigh 
teen months, while I commanded the Good Man Richard, until she 
was lost in the action with the Serapis, and in the Alliance, and Ariel 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

frigates. His bravery on board the first-mentioned ship, in the action 
with the Serapis, a King s ship of fifty guns, off Flamborough Head, 
while he had command of the main top, will, I hope, recommend him 
to the notice of Congress in the line of promotion, with his other 
merits. 

"JOHN PAUL JONES. 

"L OniENT, (IN FRANCE) December iyth, 1780." 

In concluding this chapter, Edmund Fanning adds 
this note : 

"This brave and gallant officer, Lieutenant Nathaniel Fanning, of 
the United States Navy, (a brother of the author of Fanning s Voy 
ages,) mentioned in this certificate, and bloody battle of unusual car 
nage, like the ever-to-be-lamented and notedly-brave Commodore 
O. H. Perry, of U. S. Navy, was brought to the grave by an attack 
of the yellow-fever, while on active duty in command at the United 
States naval station at Charleston, S. C., on the soth day of Sep 
tember 1805." l 

But the curious feature of Edmund Fanning s state 
ments regarding his brother, is that in 1838, when the 
lives of Jones by Sherburne and Sands, and the Edin 
burgh life, were well known and extensively circulated, 
he, his brother s heir, and in possession of his brother s 
papers, including the narrative in manuscript, should 
not have made more extensive and exact quotations 
from it, or at least have referred to it. Nathaniel died, 
as he states, in 1805. The imprint of the original book 
is 1806. Therefore, as the book was printed after Na 
thaniel s death, it follows that Edmund, who had con 
siderable experience as an author and publisher, 
procured its first printing, but preferred, for obvious 

1 This year, during the second administration of President Jefferson, 
was marked by the abandonment of an active naval policy. Ships were 
sold; officers discharged; dockyards closed. Fanning was probably given 
a civil appointment in charge of what remained of a naval station at 
Charleston. He was never regularly commissioned as an officer of the 
navy. 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

reasons, to conceal the name of the author; but later, 
in 1808, printed the new title-page, with Nathaniel s 
name as the American naval officer whose life and 
exploits were recorded. 

It can only be surmised that the book, with either 
title-page, was withheld from general circulation by 
Edmund Fanning, as attested by its extreme rarity 
to-day. 

His reasons for withholding the book may have been, 
and probably were, because of the grave charges against 
the personal character of Jones, and the grossness of his 
expressions, as well as the recital of personal adven 
tures that were unfit for publication, and which Ed 
mund Fanning, himself a prominent writer upon mari 
time voyages and South Sea explorations, did not think 
would add to the family credit, particularly at a time 
when the Wilkes Exploring Expedition brought him 
prominently before the public as its originator and 
claimant for the command of it. 

The Editor is convinced that Edmund Fanning had 
the original book printed in 1806, later supplied the 
title-page of 1808, and later still destroyed the entire 
issue, except a few copies, which got into a very re 
stricted circulation. 

The narrative shows, in a measure, the peculiar rela 
tions existing, during the years 1779-81, between the 
revolted colonies and the powers of Europe, and the 
nature of the cruises made by vessels which, as priva 
teers, sailed from Dutch and French ports, alternately 
under the American and French flags, commanded by 
Americans or Frenchmen, under commissions or war 
rants issued by our ambassadors, many having been 
signed in blank by John Hancock, President of Con- 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

gress, and sent out to Benjamin Franklin, who filled in 
the names of those to whom they were given. 1 

None of the subordinate officers on the Bon Homme 
Richard, Alliance, or Ariel held regular commissions 
or warrants issued by Congress. All probably were 
merely appointed by Jones himself, mostly from ex 
changed prisoners of war; Dale himself being first 
enlisted as master s mate. It does not appear that Fan 
ning had any other appointment than that conferred 
by Jones s certificate. 

1 The original commission of Gustavus Conyngham, which naval his 
torians unite in stating was lost, dated March I, 1777, signed by John 
Hancock, President of Congress, and Charles Thompson, Secretary, was 
one of these commissions, and was found in Paris, and is now in the pos 
session of the Editor. 



NARRATIVE 



ADVENTURES 



AMERICAN NAVY OFFICER, 



WHO SERVED DURING PART OF THE 



AMERICAN REVOLUTION 



UNDER THE COMMAND OF 



COM. JOHN PAUL JONES, Esq. 



COPY-RIGHT SECURED. 



NEW-YORK: 



PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR. 



1806. 



PREFACE. 

THE author of the following pages, at the time they 
were first written, never intended that they should 
appear before the public eye. But through the earnest 
solicitation of a number of friends, who having read his 
Journal, from which the following sheets have been 
compiled; he has been induced (together with a view 
of opposing the zeal with which certain characters in 
this country have strove lately to debase the American 
name, by branding it with the epithet of coward, pol 
troon, not so brave as an Englishman and the like; 
which has often sounded in the ears of the author,) to 
change his intentions, and to commit the whole to the 
press. He pledges himself, that he has in the compila 
tion, kept truth on his side. That the perusal will meet 
with the entire approbation of every one, is not to be 
expected; but it is hoped that the reader will forbear 
censuring the author too much, as he does not pretend 
to be a scholar (in regard of style or orthography) 
never having had but barely a common education ; hav 
ing followed the seas for a livelihood from his early 
youth upwards to the present time. However, the man 
ner of writing, or the style, may suit the reader, as com 
ing from the pen of an experienced sailor; he flatters 
himself that the public will condescend to give it a kind 
and favourable reception. In the mean time, he has the 
honour to be 

The public s most obt. servant, 

THE AUTHOR. 



DEDICATION. 

TO JOHN JACKSON, Esq., 

SIR, 

AFTER a careful perusal of the following pages, 
written, as you know, by an old navy revolutionary 
officer; you have consented that he should dedicate 
them to you. This is a proof of your attachment to the 
principles on which our Independence was founded. 
The active part which you took in the revolutionary 
war, on the side of the Americans, and your unabated 
zeal for Republican principles ever since that period, 
enables you to distinguish its true friends. In conse 
quence of this, you have thought the present work inter 
esting to the rising generation in the United States, and 
have recommended its publication. Wishing you every 
happiness this world can afford; 
I remain, 

with sentiments of esteem, 
your very obedient, and 
most humble servant 

THE AUTHOR. 



CONTENTS 

Page 

THE author sails from Boston in the brigantine Angelica, an 

American privateer, i 

He is captured by an English frigate, on board of which the 

English general HOWE was a passenger, 2 

Treatment the officers and crew of the American privateer 

received from the English, 3 

Plan and dispositions made by the Americans to make them 
selves masters of the English frigate, ib. 

It was discovered to the English by a traitor, which frustrated 

the design, 4 

Sundry transactions which took place among the Americans who 
were confined in the frigate s hold, until her arrival in 
Portsmouth (England), 5 

The author, after having undergone an examination at Hazel 

Hospital, was committed to Forton prison, 8 

Some observations on the manner and usage of the American 

prisoners during the author s confinement in that prison, . 9 

He is exchanged, 19 

His reception in France, 21 

Description of the city of Nantz, 22 

- of 1 Orient, ib. 

Embarks on board of a ship of war, called in French, Le Bon 
Homme Richard, in English, the Good Man Richard, com 
manded by the celebrated John Paul Jones, Esq., .... 23 

Remarks and transactions during the cruise, until we descried 

the English Baltic fleet, ib. 

Disposition made previous to the bloody battle fought between 

Le Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis, 34 

Force of each ship before the action, 36 

A minute description of the engagement, 38 

The enemy strike their flag, 47 



CONTENTS 

Page 

Situation of the two ships after the battle, 49 

The number of killed and wounded on board of each ship, with 

remarks, 57 

Disposition of the Dutch admiral on our arrival off the Texel, 

on the coast of Holland, 60 

Commodore Jones s little squadron enters the Texel, ... 61 
Description of the Texel and Helder the dykes and the Dutch, ib. 
The behaviour of the English Captain, late commander of the 

Serapis, towards the American commodore, 62 

Demand of Sir Joseph Yorke (English ambassador at the 
Hague), made to the Dutch government, for the restitution 
of the ships of war, their officers and crews, captured by 

Com. Jones, 63 

Exchange of the English officers and men, prisoners of war, and 

the reception of the American commodore at Amsterdam, . 64 

Manoeuvres of the Dutch government, 66 

The American commodore shifts his flag on board of the Alli 
ance frigate, 67 

Some observations on a journal found on board of the Serapis, 
kept by a midshipman, who belonged to her, and was killed 

in the action, ib. 

An English squadron blockades the Texel, 68 

Form of the certificate given by capt. Jones to each of his mid 
shipmen, 69 

His manner of behaviour towards them, 70 

The insolent behaviour of the Dutch admiral towards capt. 

Jones while at the Texel, 7 1 

The Alliance frigate sails from that place on a cruise, ... 72 

She arrives in Coronia in Spain, 77 

Description of that place, and of the Spanish nobility, ... ib. 
Jones s crew shew a disposition to mutiny, . .... 78 

The Alliance sails from Coronia on a cruise, ib. 

Capt. Jones s conduct towards his officers and crew while on 

the cruise, 79 

The Alliance arrives in 1 Orient in France, 80 

She is taken from Capt. Jones by Capt. L , her former 

Commander, in a clandestine manner, 82 

Sundry transactions which grew out of this manoeuvre, ... 83 
Jones s reception at Paris, by the king and queen of France, . 86 
He obtains the command of a sloop of war, and sails for 

America, 87 



CONTENTS 

Page 
This vessel loses her three masts, rides out a very tremendous 

gale of wind, in the Bay of Biscay, and returns back to 

rOrient, 88 

Treatment of a young man by capt. Jones, who had embarked 

on board of his ship as a passenger, 89 

Jones s grand festival on board of his ship, and sham-fight, . . 98 
Biographic sketch of the life and character of John Paul 

Jones, Esq., 105 

Sketch of capt. Parsons s character, formerly commander of the 

Serapis, 121 

A sketch of the character of Richard Dale, Esq., 123 

The author arrives at Morlaix in France, and engages as second 

captain on board a privateer, 125 

Description of that place, 126 

Sundry remarks on a cruise, ib. 

Description of the harbour of Brest, and the slaves confined 

there, 131 

The author is made a prisoner by the English, 139 

Description of a cock fight near Falmouth (England), . . . 143 

The author is exchanged, and arrives in France, 144 

Embarks for America, and is cast away, 145 

Description of the beggars in France, 147 

- of the city of Caen, in Normandy, 150 

- of Havre de Grace, 152 

- of Ostend, 155 

The author makes a cruise in a privateer, during which she cap 
tures a number of prizes, 156 

Description of Cherbourg in France, 158 

The author (from Dunkirk) makes two voyages to London 
at the same time holds a commission against the English 

by the way of Ostend, 162 

Description of the city of Canterbury, and of the English mode 

of hanging sailors, 164 

The author is invested with the command of the Eclipse priva 
teer, and sailes on a cruise, during which he captures several 
English letters of marque of superior force, and other prizes, 

and returns to Dunkirk, 181 

He receives a commission as lieutenant in the French Navy, . 210 
He sails from Dunkirk again on another cruise, and captures 
several vessels out of an English fleet is taken and carried 
into Dover his prizes arrive safe in Dunkirk, . . . . 211 



CONTENTS 

Page 

He is exchanged and returns to Dunkirk by the way of Calais, 221 
The author, for the last time, sails from Dunkirk on a cruise 
was captured by an English frigate his treatment on 

board of the same, ib. 

The frigate is captured by the French fleet, and the author is 

again set at liberty, 224 

Conduct of the French admiral towards him, ib. 

The treatment towards his officers and men, 226 

Conduct of the author s first lieutenant, 228 

Description of Dunkirk also of canals their use and con 
venience, 231 

The manner of hanging criminals in France, 234 

of executing criminals in Germany, 236 

Description of the city of Lisle, 238 

The author sets out from Dunkirk, and arrives in the city of 

Paris, ib. 

Description of the city of Paris, 242 

- of the Elysian Fields, 243 

- of Versailles, 247 

The author arrives at FOrient, and embarks once more for 

America, 254 

Remarks on the passage, 255 

Arrives at New York, 256 

Conduct of the English towards the French Captain soon after 

his arrival in port and conclusion, 257 



C viii 3 



NARRATIVE, &c. 

HAVING been born 1755, in the state of Con 
necticut, and in the early part of the American Revo 
lution for independence, I imbibed the idea that the 
struggles between Great Britain and her American 
Colonies would eventually prove to the advantage of 
the latter. In full belief of the same, I took an active 
and decided part in favor of my country. 

After having made two successful cruises against the 
English, I embarked on a third at Boston, on the 26th 
day of May, 1778, on board the brig Angelica, William 
Dennis, commander, a new vessel, mounting sixteen 
carriage guns, and carrying ninety-eight men and boys, 
on a six months cruise against the enemies of my coun 
try. We sailed from Boston on the same day on which 
I embarked (it may be well perhaps to observe that I 
was only a prize-master on board said privateer.) We 
saw r nothing but a privateer belonging to Salem, which 
we spoke, till the 3ist of May* at noon, when we dis 
covered a sail bearing S.S.E. of us, the wind then being 
about N. by E. Orders were immediately given by the 
captain to make sail for her; in a short time after we 
could perceive with our glasses that she was a ship 
standing by the wind to the eastward ; at i P.M. saw that 
she was a long frigate built ship. All hands were now 

*My birthday. 

CO 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

ordered to quarters and prepare for action; at 4 P.M. 
we Were, near enough to distinguish the chase from a 
Jamaica. .merchantman, which we at first view supposed 
it to be. In consequence of our being convinced that 
she was an English ship of war, we jibed ship and 
hauled on a wind to the westward, but too late, as the 
ship immediately hove in stays, run out her guns, and 
gave us chase in her turn, and in about three quarters 
of an hour more she came along side of us, and obliged 
us to haul down our Yankee colours, and proved to be 
the Andromeda frigate of twenty-eight guns, five days 
from Philadelphia, and had on board as a passenger 
the celebrated general Howe, of Bunker Hill memory, 
and was bound to Portsmouth, in England. The enemy 
soon obliged us to abandon the poor Angelica, and con 
ducted us on board the Andromeda, where we were all 
paraded on the quarter deck in presence of their great 
and mighty general, who asked us a number of insig 
nificant questions; among which was, If we were will 
ing to engage in his majesty s service? We having an 
swered pretty unanimously in the negative, he then 
upbraided us with these words : You are a set of rebels, 
and it is more than probable that you will all be hanged 
on our arrival at Portsmouth. The master at arms 
was then ordered on the ship s quarter deck, who soon 
made his appearance, and under the pretence of search 
ing our baggage for concealed knives; he, with some of 
his comrades, very dexterously conveyed our said bag 
gage out of sight, so that we saw nothing of it, or any 
part thereof afterwards. This was the more astonish 
ing, as it was done under the general s eye ; who ordered 
us all to be confined in the ship s hold. We soon began 
our march for this young hell upon the seas, and on our 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

way we were ordered by some of the Jack tars to halt; 
who began to strip us, saying, or rather accosting us 
with these words: d n my eyes, shipmate, but you 

have got a d d fine coat there fine hat fine shoe 

buckles fine jacket fine breeches, etc. but taking care 
to land these expressions with an oath. In short every 
thing that we then had was fine to them; and after say 
ing, Come, come! ship mates, these fine things will 
only be a plague to you, as the climate is very hot where 
you are bound, (meaning the ship s hold;) they then 
without any further ceremony fell to work and stripped 
us of our clothes. There happened at this juncture to 
pass by a midshipman, who said, That is right lads, 

strip the d d rebels, and give each of them a frock 

and trousers, those will be good enough for them to be 
hanged in! We were, according to his orders, stripped, 
and after being furnished with frocks and trousers, we 
continued our march till we were shoved headlong into 
the aforesaid hell upon the seas! Two sentinels were 
then placed at the mouth thereof to prevent our running 
away! Here they kept us fasting during twenty hours, 
and then sent us our small pittance of provisions, which 
was no more per man per day than two thirds of the 
allowance of a prisoner of war: however, it was in vain 
we petitioned for redress to the captain of the ship, and 
to general Howe ; they were deaf to our complaints, and 
answered that we were treated with too much lenity, 
being considered as rebels, whose crimes were of such 
an aggravated kind that we should be shewn no mercy. 
The enemy at about nine at night set the Angelica on 
fire, and she soon after blew up, and the ship continued 
on her course for England. 

The next day after being confined in the frigate s 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

hold, a plan was set on foot by our surgeon to make 
ourselves masters of her; this met with the approbation 
of all, to appearance; and we agreed to put it in execu 
tion on the third of June, at half past eleven at night, or 
to die in the attempt. However, in the meantime the 
surgeon had frequent conversations with the forecastle 
men and sentinels, who agreed all as one to join us. We 
had by this time pretty severely felt the effects of the 
heat in our confinement in the ship s lower hold upon 
the haul up deck (a temporary one laying over the 
water punchions, ballast, &c.) as we were obliged from 
the excessive heat to go stark naked, only when we had 
occasion to go upon deck, which we were allowed to do 
only one at a time, and once in twenty-four hours. I 
have often, while confined in this young hell, being 
almost suffocated, crawled into the wings of the ship, 
and got my nose to the air holes before I could fetch 
breath. In fine, we all suffered so much here we were 
willing to be all cut to pieces in our intended attempt, 
rather than suffer in this dismal place any longer. The 
most of the ship s crew at this time were so much af 
fected with the scurvy, that we had no reason to expect 
any great opposition to obstruct us in our intended de 
sign; as we had some arms, cutlasses, &c. secretly con 
veyed down to us by persons who were in league with 
our surgeon. 

Our plan being now ripe for execution, and the sur 
geon having been upon deck the two preceding nights, 
by consent of those who kept sentinel over us, they being 
in the plot; he had observed that the greater part of the 
watch were almost all the time fast asleep; so that it 
was very probable that we should not have met with a 
very warm reception. But an unforeseen casualty en- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

tirely frustrated our plan. About nine at night, on the 
third of June, when we were all prepared and in high 
spirits; having as we thought, arrived almost to the 
height of our wishes, as we saw nothing then to hinder 
our taking possession of the frigate. One Spencer, cap 
tain Dennis clerk, stole upon deck and made known to 
the general our plot; presently after the marines and 
sailors were all armed, and so great was the panic 
among both officers and crew that they were almost 
ready to believe that we were masters of their ship. 
However, the lower hatches were immediately thrown 
on and barred down; and now it was that we began to 
think seriously that we should very soon die in a heap, 
as the heat became intolerable; and to complete our suf 
ferings, orders were given by this great and mighty 
general, to give us only as much provisions as would 
serve to keep us alive and to deal out to us no more 
water than half a pint per man per day; this was British 
humanity to a witness! However, as we were lodged 
upon the water casks, over which was laid a temporary 
deck, we, with a kind of proof-glass got a sufficiency; 
but as to provisions it was next to none. However, as 
there was nothing but a partition of plank between us 
and the general s store-room, we fell upon an expedient 
to augment our stores; as we had frequently beheld the 
captain s steward and general s servants from between 
the shifting boards abaft the pump-well, drawing off 
wines and other liquors, and only securing the bungs 
of each cask with their fingers; getting white biscuit 
out of one keg; neats tongues out of another; raisins out 
of another; hams out of a cask they were stowed in; 
mess beef out of tierces; and in fine, this store-room 
contained almost everything agreeable to the taste, and 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

in great plenty. On the evening of the ^th of June, at 
10 at night, one Howard, a native of Rhode-Island, a 
bold and enterprising fellow, declared he would not 
that night close his eyes until he drank some Madeira 
wine; and that he would be the person who would run 
the hazard of losing his life in order to serve us all, if 
we could make a breach, so that he could get into the 
said store-room. Accordingly we went to work, and 
soon found that one of the shifting boards abaft the 
pump-well was loose, and that we could ship and unship 
it as we pleased : when it was unshipped there was just 
room enough for a man to crawl into the store-room 
already mentioned, which Howard no sooner saw than 
he improved the precious occasion, and in he went; 
and presently after desired one to hand him a mug or 
can, with our proof glass; a few minutes after he 
handed me back the same full, saying at the same time, 
my friends, as good Madeira wine as ever was drank 
at the table of an Emperor. I took it from his hands, 
and being very dry, I drank about one third of it, which 
was I judge about half a pint, and then gave it to my. 
fellow sufferers. The can thus went round merrily till 
we were all but Howard, what may be called decently 
drunk; and Howard, after having secured us some eat 
ables of several kinds, and likewise putting the shifting 
boards in their place, retired to the general rendezvous 
upon the haul-up-deck. Thus we lived like hearty fel 
lows, taking care every night to secure provisions, dried 
fruit, and wines, for the day following, until the frigate 
came to anchor in Portsmouth, and that in pretty large 
quantities, without being beholden to our enemies 
bounty, and without their knowledge. However, that 
they might not suspect this conduct of ours, we used to 

63 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

snatch at the small pittance of provisions allowed us 
when they dealt it out to us as if we were half starved, 
and at the water they allowed us the same. On our way 
to England the frigate lost part of her crew with the 
scurvy; but as for us, the general, as well as the captain 
and his officers, were astonished on the score of our 
being all brave and hearty. The former even expressed 
himself in this manner ; What, are none of them d d 
Yankees sick! Somebody made answer, not one. 
D n them, (says he) there is nothing but thunder and 
lightning will kill them. This was reported to us by 
the captain s steward, and one of the general s servants. 

At length on the last day of June, 1778, we arrived 
at Portsmouth, when the quarter-masters were ordered 
down into the cable teers to see them clear, in order for 
letting go the anchors. But I had forgot to mention 
one circumstance relating to the sailors of the brig An 
gelica confined in the frigate s hold; it was this; they 
got, during our confinement, as much old Jamaica 
spirits as they wished to drink, by boreing a hole 
through the bulk head upon the larboard side of the 
pump-well, into a large butt which stood against the 
partition, and by means of quills drew spirits whenever 
they wanted. 

But to return to the quarter-masters. As soon as they 
came into the hold, upon the haul-up-deck, they began 
to accost us in this manner: Well, ship-mates, how have 
you fared the passage? said one of them: D n my 

eyes, Bob, but these Yankees look d d well ; I guess 

they found their way into the general s store-room 
what say you, Bob? 

I don t know Jack, but d n me, if I don t wish the 
devil had run a hunting with them all, before they had 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

popped themselves in our way; for blast my eyes, but 
they have deprived us of many a good drink of Ma 
deira, as well as old Jamaica stingo. Well, Bob, I think 
the poor devils (as the general says) will soon die with 
the narrows, as the Irishman s father did: so d d 
narrow that he could not get his head out! 7 

The ship came to anchor about 4 P.M. and early the 
next morning we were all ordered to make our appear 
ance upon the quarter deck; thus paraded, the captain 
told us to get ready to go on board of a better ship ; 
That is she, at the same time pointing to the Princess 
Amelia, on board of which you are to be hanged, with 
out my gracious sovereign is pleased to pardon some of 
you, which I do not think will be the case, as your 
offences are of the blackest kind. After this short 
harangue we were shoved headlong into the ship s boats, 
which lay waiting along side for our reception, and 
conducted to a place called Hazel hospital. On our 
way thither they rowed us under the gallows of Jack 
the Painter, which stood upon a point of land ; and then 
the officer who had the command of the boats ordered 
his men to lay upon their oars, and told us we should 
fare the same fate as him who you see hung in irons 
yonder; at the same time pointing to the gallows on 
which he hung. This object of British triumph ap 
peared to be dressed in black with his hat upon his head, 
and silver shoe-buckles in his shoes. His crime was, 
setting fire to the Navy dock-yards in Portsmouth, 
which destroyed a great quantity of materials intended 
for the use of the British Navy, &c. On our arrival at 
Hazel hospital we were interrogated one at a time by 
the commissioners of the admiralty; some of whom 
although young looking men had hair nearly as white 



TANNING S NARRATIVE 

as snow. Some of the questions which they asked were 
these: Where was you from, and where bound when 
captured? what force? by whom taken? who commis 
sioned your privateer? It is to be observed that these 
commissioners treated us with no abusive language; no 
imperious or domineering threats; on the contrary, they 
assured us we should be kindly used as prisoners of 
war; that as it appeared to them that we had been 
robbed of our wearing apparel, we should be furnished 
in a few days with each a decent suit at the King s ex 
pense, (which, however, was not done.) After we had 
got through with our examination, we were marched to 
Fortun prison* and there committed for piracy and 
high treason. This prison lies about two miles from 
Portsmouth harbour and was built for an hospital in the 
reign of Queen Ann, for the accommodation of sick and 
wounded seamen. It is in two large spacious buildings, 
separate from each by a yard large enough to parade a 
guard of an hundred men, which number the officers 
and soldiers consisted of while I remained there a pris 
oner. The buildings thus separated, the northermost 
was occupied by the under officers, sailors and marines; 
and the southermost by the officers of somewhat higher 
grades. It is a very convenient place for prisoners of 
war, as there is a spacious lot adjoining the prisons con 
taining about three quarters of an acre of level ground, 
in the centre of which stands a large shed or building, 
open on all sides to admit the free circulation of air; 
under which were seats for our accommodation when 
the weather was hot and sultry. The large yard, to 
prevent the prisoners from escaping, was picketed in 
on all sides ; these were planted in the ground about two 

*In Gosport, near Portsmouth. 

C9] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

inches asunder, and about eight feet long. It would be 
very easy for the Americans to make their escape from 
hence even in the day time, were it not for the peasants, 
who were always lurking about here, followed by their 
great dogs, and armed with great clubs. The reader 
will observe, this was the fact with regard to the Ameri 
can prisoners ; and upon the report of one of us having 
made his escape, I could see sometimes seventy or 
eighty in a few minutes in search of their booty, beating 
the bushes, running to and fro, from ditch to ditch, till 
they had got fast hold of the poor Yankee, who was thus 
led in triumph to the old crab; (a nick-name given to 
the agent for American prisoners of war, who resided 
near the prisons.) He was very old and ugly, and used 
to creep over the ground not unlike a large crab. He 
was also very boisterous and ill-natured towards all of 
us, and in the sequel the reader will perceive, that to 
this was added cruelty and revenge. These peasants or 
country people, had five pounds sterling for taking up 
an American who attempted to make his escape; but 
they obtained only half a guinea for securing a French 
prisoner.* The first two months of my imprisonment 
here, I received from the hands of the Rev. Mr. Wren, 
every Monday morning, two shillings and six pence 
sterling per week, during which time I made out to live 
pretty comfortable, but when this source was gone, and 
no longer existed, which was soon after the fact, I lived 
truly very miserable, not having any more provisions 
and small beer during the twenty-four hours than would 
serve for one meal : this allowance was dealt out to each 
prisoner, being but three quarters of what was allowed 

*The French prisoners of war were confined in a prison hard by 
ours. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

to common prisoners of war; this however our good 
friends, the English, even thought too much for rebels: 
I say our small pittance of provisions was dealt out to 
us every day at twelve o clock; mine I used to destroy, 
or rather devour it at one meal, and not have enough to 
satisfy the cravings of hunger. 

Now it was that I felt the disagreeable feelings of 
going part of the time half starved; and have often 
picked up bones in the yard, and begged others without 
the walls of the prison, of people who lived near 
thereto; with these, by digging out the inside of them 
with a sharp pointed knife, I have partly satisfied the 
severe craving of an hungry appetite, which have often 
tasted to me more delicious than any thing I have ever 
tasted since my liberation from this dismal confinement. 
Great numbers of the country people made it a custom 
to come and see us every day; but more particularly on 
Sundays; sometimes they would amount to a thousand 
and upwards : and on some of those days, many of which 
would make use of the following expressions, at the 
same time observing us very attentively: Why, Lard, 
neighbour, there be white paple ; they taulk jest as us do, 
by my troth; thare s a paity such good looking paple 
shou d be troused up by our grate men, &c (Troused 
hanged.) 

One day the following inhuman action took place 
here; an officer who mounted guard over us with his 
men, to the number of about an hundred; and who it 
seems, were determined before they were relieved, to be 
the death of some of the rebels, as they expressed them 
selves to this effect to one of the turnkeys, who after 
wards told it to one of us. Accordingly, to make some 
pretence, the officer, who I think was a captain, went 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

into the guard-house and got a red hot poker, with 
which he fell to burning the American prisoners 7 shirts, 
which they had hung upon the pickets to dry. It may 
be well here to observe, that the owners of these shirts 
had not a second to their backs; so that they begged the 
officer in a very civil manner, not to be so cruel as to 
burn all the shirts which they had; he would not how 
ever listen to their entreaties, but kept on his villainy. 
The American prisoners seeing this, ran to the pickets, 
and snatched away their shirts, (but without making 
use of any abusive language) which so enraged this son 
of old beelzebub, that he ordered the sentinel to fire 
his musket in among us, who instantly obeyed, and 
killed one man dead, and wounded several; at this time 
there were not less than three hundred Americans in the 
yard. This done, he ordered the guard to parade and 
fix their bayonets ; they then rushed among us and drove 
us into prison and had the doors locked and barred, to 
prevent a revolt of the prisoners. The next day a jury 
was summoned, who met at the old crab s dwelling- 
house, and after some deliberations, gave in their ver 
dict manslaughter; although it was proved by more 
than twenty witnesses, who were inhabitants of Gos- 
port, that the sentinel who committed this murder, after 
having discharged his piece, loaded it in an instant, and 
threatened to fire upon us again if we did not shut our 
mouths; thus ended (to the shame and confusion of the 
British character) this tragical event. Soon after this, 
Mr. Hartly, then a member of the British parliament, 
a very plain man, and who was said to be a great friend 
to the Americans, came to see us, talked familiarly with 
us, and gave us encouragement of our being exchanged 
soon: this was about the middle of November, 1778; 
but we put so little confidence in what he told us, that 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

we imagined he only did it to amuse us, having so often 
heard such kind of stories from people who came to 
visit us. The hardships we had already experienced, 
and the thoughts of remaining in close confinement, 
perhaps for years, wrought so powerfully upon us, that 
we came to the determination of (the only way in our 
power) digging out. Accordingly, as we were shut 
into the prisons from sunset to sunrise, we occupied 
ourselves in the night, when all around was quiet, in 
undermining the prison walls, in order to effect our 
escape, which proved effectual to great numbers: how 
ever, many who attempted this mode of escape, espe 
cially such as had not money enough to bear their 
expenses as far as London, a distance of about seventy- 
five miles, were taken and brought back to their old 
confinement; but were obliged to suffer the extra pun 
ishment of lying in the black hole* forty days and forty 
nights: (as long as Satan was suffered to tempt our 
Saviour.) In this place the American prisoners were 
allowed nothing but bread and water to subsist upon; 
many nevertheless, succeeded in making their escape 
even from this place by digging out, and crossing the 
channel to France, in small boats called wherry s. Those 
who had continued in the black hole till the expiration 
of the forty days, were allowed the liberty of the yard 
as before; being first entered upon the Agent s books 
as deserters, and not to be exchanged till the very last. 
This was a great mortification to many, as will be seen 
in the end ; for some of them, in consequence of their 
desertion, remained here prisoners of war three or four 
years thereafter: in fact, a few of them were not re 
leased from prison until the peace. 

It will not, perhaps, be here amiss to mention what 

*A kind of dungeon. 

r.133 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

was done with so much dirt and stones, taken out of 
the great number of holes dug by the prisoners ; which 
I will inform the reader, so far as has any relation to 
those under the prison where the officers were confined, 
and where I was. The dirt was partly lodged in an 
old stack of chimneys nearly in the centre of our prison ; 
the fire-places below having been for years before 
stopped up, and we were lodged upon the second and 
third floors. The chimney aforesaid being white 
washed, we used when our work was finished for the 
night, to paste a piece of white paper over the hole 
where we emptied the dirt into the hollow of the chim 
ney. The dirt, &c. was put into small canvas bags, by 
those who were employed in digging under ground, and 
from thence passed from one to the other until it was at 
the place of deposit, where is was emptied, and then 
passed back to be filled again, where the diggers were at 
work. This kind of work began generally about 1 1 
o clock at night, when all was still excepting the sen 
tinel, who would from time to time cry, All s well, and 
last till about 3 o clock in the morning; at which time 
the hole in the chimney was closed as before related, and 
all of us would retire to rest. After a while the chim 
ney was filled with dirt and stones; however, we soon 
found another place to deposit what we took out of the 
holes: this was in the garret of the prison, underneath 
the floor. It was lathed and plaistered, through which 
we made a hole large enough for a man to get through 
into the garret, here we put several cartloads of dirt 
and stones, and the hole was secured in the same manner 
as the one before mentioned in the chimney. 

In the prison where the American officers were con 
fined was a number of French officers, who had been 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

taken in the American service, two of whom were 
tolerable scholars, and amused themselves in teaching 
the Americans the French language. 

I had myself acquired a considerable smattering of 
it before I left the prison; so much so, that I could 
converse with the French gentlemen who were our 
fellow prisoners. In the other prison, where the sub 
altern officers, seamen and other Americans were con 
fined, there were regular schools kept, in which the 
masters taught reading, writing, arithmetic and navi 
gation. Numbers of the Americans,* who, when they 
were captured by the English and shut up in Forton 
prison, did not know how to read, and many others who 
could not write, so that in fact it was a most fortunate 
circumstance in the whole course of their lives : (I mean 
that of their being taken and committed to this place.) 
The attention and application which most of them paid 
to their studies, was really commendable. The officers 
in the prison where I was confined, amounted at one 
time to about three hundred and sixty-seven, out of 
which number there were about one hundred and thirty- 
eight who made their escape, and got over to France, 
in the course of twelve months; all these crept through 
the holes dug, as before mentioned. In the night, while 
a certain number were busily employed in digging and 
in passing the bags of dirt and gravel to the place of 
deposit; others were employed in dancing (after the 
sound of the violin, as we had among us several fiddlers. ) 
The room where we used to exercise in this manner was 
large and spacious, with a fire place in the centre of it. 

*Many of these have since been advanced to the rank of masters 
of vessels: otherwise had they never seen Forton prison, they never 
would have been more than sailors. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

Upon the second floor, and directly over the English 
officers guard-room, so much noise was made some 
times, that the guard would be turned out, the turnkeys 
called up to open the prison doors, and the guard would 
then rush into the prison, and find all the lights put out, 
every man in his hammock, the bags &c. secured and all 
quiet, when after threatening of us in the most abusive 
language, that if we made any more noise we should all 
be thrust into the black hole, they would retire as wise 
as they came. We however, as soon as all was hush, 
once more would turn out and repeat our common exer 
cise. Several times in the course of a single night the 
guard would repeat their visits in the way I have re 
lated, and would always find us in our hammocks. 

The hall in which we slept, was upon the second floor 
(next room adjoining the dancing, or keeping room) 
about two hundred feet long, and about forty in breadth ; 
upon each side of this spacious hall was arranged our 
hammocks ; hooks were affixed in the sides of the hall 
and in two rows of posts, about eight feet from the sides, 
to which our hammocks were suspended in the night; 
but during the day, they were hung up to the walls on 
each side; this made room in great plenty for walking 
and other kinds of exercise. The hammocks, to each 
of which was added a king s rug (cover laid) a straw 
bed and pillow of the same kind, furnished each pris 
oner, at the King s expense; these had generally been 
before used in hospitals, and on board of prison-ships, 
and were full of knits and lice so that in fact we might 
have been called a lousy set of fellows; and the first 
thing to be seen every morning as soon as it was light, 
were naked men sitting upon their breach, in their ham 
mocks, lousing themselves. Could we have obtained 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

only the eighth part of a farthing for every louse so 
killed, from the government, and the money punctually 
paid us every day, we should have left prison as rich 
as Jews! One circumstance which occurred during my 
confinement here ought not to be forgotten ; several of 
the prisoners were taken suddenly sick and removed to 
the hospital ; some of these died with strong symptoms 
of having been poisoned. This created a general alarm 
among the prisoners; some of whom believed the same 
game was playing here, as had been done on board the 
old Jersey, a prison ship near the city of New- York; 
there held by the British, and on board of which ship, 
we had heard that thousands of our countrymen had 
died.* Various conjectures were agitated from whence 
the cause of this sudden and mortal desease had orig 
inated; and after a succession of trials, assisted by sev 
eral physicians and surgeons who were among us, the 
poison was traced, and found in our bread; by dissolv 
ing which, we found quantities of glass pounded fine. 
Will any one who is ever so great a stickler for the 
British King and government; and who has been 
acquainted with this circumstance, have the arrogance 
to say anything more about British humanity! 

A regular complaint was now lodged by the Ameri 
cans to the proper authority, and some enquiry made; 
some laid the blame to the agent, he to the baker, the 
baker to them who furnished him with materials, with 
which he made his bread; and here this atrocious and 
murderous transaction ended. However, it is hoped by 
the compiler of these sheets, that this, as well as the 
conduct of the British relative to the old Jersey, will 

*The number of Americans who died on board of that ship during 
the American Revolution (as published) exceeded eleven thousand. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

be had in eternal remembrance by the citizens of the 
United States, so long as the British shall exist as a 
nation!!! The humane and kind treatment of one per 
son towards the American prisoners, however, ought to 
be universally known in the United States. I mean an 
English clergyman, by the name of Wren. This good 
man, at the time, lived in Gosport, not far from Fortun 
prison. His house was an asylum for the Americans 
who made their escape from confinement; and every one 
of these, if they could once reach his abode was sure to 
find a hiding place, a change of wearing apparel and 
money, if they were in want of it, and a safe conveyance 
to London, where they would consider themselves in 
perfect safety; as they could at any time go from thence 
to France, by the way of Dover and Ostend* And in 
order to more fully illustrate the character of this Rev. 
gentleman, the reader is informed, that before the 
declaration of independence by the American Congress, 
large sums of money were subscribed by individuals in 
England for the benefit of the American prisoners, who 
were then confined in different parts of that country. 
The subscription, at one time, amounted to eight or ten 
thousand pounds sterling; towards which it is said, the 
queen gave one thousand guineas out of her private 
purse. This source soon dryed up; for no sooner had 
the declaration of independence arrived in England 
than the subscription before spoken of ceased alto 
gether. A committee of the subscribers chosen for that 
purpose had appointed a person at, or near each prison, 
where the Americans were confined, whose duty it was 
to distribute the money among the prisoners, according 
as they should deem to be right and just. Mr. Wren 

*Then a neutral port, 33 miles from Dunkirk, in France. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

was the one appointed near us ; and I believe he exer 
cised the trust reposed in him, with punctuality. He 
made it a part of his duty to visit us once a week during 
my continuance here, and was in the habit of calling 
us, my children. Besides, when the subscription-fund 
was entirely gone, he used to go round the neighbour 
hood, and even where he was not known, to beg clothes 
and money for us. Often have I experienced this good 
man s bounty. Frequently some bad characters among 
the Americans, would accost him with abusive and in 
sulting language, if he did not supply all their wants: 
his only reply would be, have a little patience, my chil 
dren, and I will endeavour to bring you the next time 
I come, whatever you are most in need of. 

At length my deliverance from captivity drew near: 
an exchange of American prisoners was in contempla 
tion; and the Rev. Mr. Wren assured us it would take 
place in a few days; and as this desired event ap 
proached the days and nights seemed to grow longer, 
and the time more irksome. In short, in the contem 
plation of which my heart leaped for joy, and my spir 
its raised above the power of description. 

The long looked for day at last arrived; a day which 
I shall never forget: it was on the 2d of June, 1779, in 
the afternoon, when the agent s clerk came into the yard 
and informed us, that one hundred and twenty of us 
were to go on board a cartel the next morning, in order 
to be sent to France. He then called over the names of 
that number, and I found myself included, being the 
hundred and eighteenth upon the list. And after he 
had read to us, with an audible voice, his majesty s most 
gracious pardon, he told us that we must hold ourselves 
in readiness to go on board of the cartel, then lying at 

D9] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the Key, on the west side of Portsmouth. Never I be 
lieve was joy equal to what I now experienced. Ac 
cordingly, the next morning about eight o clock, we 
who had been called over the day preceding, were 
again called upon to answer to our names, and were 
paraded in the yard : the rest of the American prisoners, 
amounting to about four hundred and eighty in both 
prisons were not permitted to mix with us, and not suf 
fered to come out of their confinement till we began 
our march, which commenced about 10 o clock, in com 
pany, or rather escorted by about forty British soldiers, 
and a number of black drummers and musicians, who 
beat up the tune of Yankee doodle, which they con 
tinued playing, till we arrived at the place of embarka 
tion. We left behind several poor fellows, who had 
been prisoners three years and upwards; and as for 
myself, I had been one only about thirteen months; 
therefore, it is easier I think, for anybody to judge than 
to pretend to describe the mortification of those who 
had been so long in confinement, on seeing us thus about 
to taste the sweets of liberty! Methinks some of them 
would be led to exclaim, O Liberty! O my country! 
On our march through the town of Gosport, the streets 
became crowded with people; some wishing us safe to 
our desired homes; others crying out, that we were a 
set of rebels, and that if we had had our deserts we 
should have been hanged: these exclamations were 
repeated with loud huzzas. On this occasion, I ob 
served that the women were most boisterous; we soon 
got out of their hearing, and embarked on board the 
cartel, and hauled off into Portsmouth roads. On the 
6th of June we set sail for Nantz in France, and on the 
xoth following, we came to anchor off Van Boeuf, a 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

small town situate upon what is sometimes called the 
Nantz river, on the West side, and about thirty miles 
N.W. of that city. Here we disembarked, and as soon 
as we began to enter the town, great multitudes of the 
French came to welcome us ; even the children appeared 
to rejoice at our landing; and to demonstrate this, they 
all joined by singing as they followed us along: Bon, 
bon, bon, cettez Boston rompez auce anglais aux des 
cannon. The substance of which in English is: Here 
are the good Bostonians* who beat the English with 
their great guns. When we got into the centre of this 
town, we were met by an American, who was clerk to 
the American agent at Nantz, who informed us that by 
the direction of the agent, he had provided lodgings for 
us, and immediately accompanied us to the hotel De 
Orleans. It was now nearly 12 o clock in the daytime; 
soon after dinner was served up, which consisted of a 
great variety of dishes ; to every cover or plate, was laid 
a clean napkin, a tumbler, spoon and a silver fork, with 
four prongs, and the servant girl announced to us that 
dinner was ready. After we had taken our seats at the 
table, one of the gentlemen observed, that there were 
no knives at table, and desired me, as I was the only 
person in the company that pretended to speak French, 
to call for some knives. I accordingly bid the girl bring 
us des gateace; we, monsieur, says she, and went out: 
presently after, she returned with several small mo 
lasses cakes which they called gateau. This mistake of 
mine in pronunciation caused abundance of mirth 
among my countrymen. I endeavoured all in my 
power to make the girl understand me, but to no pur 
pose, until I shewed her a penknife; which, on seeing, 

*At this time all the Americans in France were called Bostonians. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

she replied instantly, Oh monsieur, ce des cauteaux que 
vous vouliez. O sir, it is knives that you want! went 
out of the room, and soon after returned with the num 
ber of knives wanted. I mention this to shew my reader 
how difficult it is for a person who has been taught 
French among the English, to make themselves under 
stood by the former, when among them, which was the 
case with me; for it is a fact, that before I left Fortun 
prison, I could converse with the French gentlemen 
confined there, upon almost any subject, and was by 
them perfectly well understood ; the reverse was the case 
with me in France. This very transaction discouraged 
me for a long time thereafter, from ever attempting to 
speak the French tongue. 

On the 1 2th, we embarked for Nantz, where we 
arrived in the afternoon of the same day. I tarried in 
this city until the 23d, when a purse of money was made 
up by the French gentlemen, for the Americans who 
had lately arrived from Fortun prison, which amounted, 
if my memory serves me correctly, to 215 guineas; be 
sides, they furnished us who were in want, which was 
the case with nearly all of us, with decent wearing 
apparel, and were exceedingly kind and humane to 
wards us in other respects. Thus having been furnished 
with cash, &c., I set off by land for 1 Orient, where I 
arrived the 27th. 

This town lies about one hundred miles W.S.W. of 
Paris : it is a King s port and the harbour is an excellent 
one for ships of the line, as well as other vessels, but 
difficult to enter, by reason of a great number of sunken 
rocks at the entrance, which a very strong citadel com 
mands, called Fort Louis, and which ships, in coming 
in are obliged to approach within musket shot. I here 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

met with the celebrated John Paul Jones, who invited 
me to go on board of his ship called Bon Homme 
Richard,* then lying in the harbour; as he said he was 
bound immediately for America and that I might go 
home in her if I chose, in the capacity of a midshipman. 
I went on board accordingly, but found by discoursing 
with some of the officers who belonged to her, that she 
was bound on a short cruise in the English channel, 
before she would sail for America. I therefore, as there 
was no other opportunity of procuring a safe passage 
home in any other vessel, agreed to go with Captain 
Jones the cruise; and on the 1410 day of August, 1779, 
set sail from 1 Orient 

The squadron of which Jones was the commodore, 
consisted of the following warlike vessels: vis. The 
Bon Homme Richard, of 40 guns, mounting 6 eigh 
teen pounders upon her lower gun deck, 28 twelves 
and nines upon her middle gun deck, and 6 six pound 
ers upon her spar and quarter decks. Her crew, includ 
ing officers, men and volunteers, consisting of four 
hundred and fifteen, (boys also included in that num 
ber) The Alliance frigate, of 36 guns, twelves, nines, 
and sixes, and two hundred and ninety officers, men, 
and boys. The Monsieur frigate, of 22 guns; the 
frigate Palais of 28 guns; the brig Vengence, of 16 
guns ; and the Cerf Cutter, of ten guns.** The commo 
dore, thus lifted above his common sphere, or element, 
assumed the title of Commander in Chief of all the 
American Ships of war, in Europe. Before we lost 
sight of the land, he sent a written message by the Ven- 

*The Good Man Richard. 

: *I do not know the number of men on board of either of these 
four last mentioned vessels. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

geance, signed John Paul Jones, commander in chief, 
&c. as above. This was addressed to Captain Babcock, 
commander of an American privateer, a ship mounting 
1 6 guns, then lying at anchor in the mouth of the river 
Loire, purporting that captain B. must immediately 
weigh anchor, get his ship under weigh, and join the 
squadron under his command, or abide the consequences 
resulting from disobedience of orders!!! The Ven 
geance executed this order, and in a few hours returned 
and reported that the General Mifflin had sailed. On 
the 1 6th at night, took a large English ship laden with 
bales of silk, and other valuable articles, and manned 
her for France. The same night, Jones had a violent 
dispute with the captain of the Monsieur frigate, and 
I apprehended that some bad consequences would have 
been the result, as all hands were ordered to quarters to 
engage the Monsieur; the captain of which thought it 
prudent for him to make sail from us, which he did, 
and was soon out of the reach of our guns: we gave 
chase to her, but could not gain on her; this so much 
exasperated Jones, that he struck several of his officers 
with his speaking trumpet over their heads, and ordered 
one of his lieutenants under confinement; that is, to go 
down to his state-room and there remain till released by 
his orders: by this time, the Monsieur had got out of 
sight, and we saw her no more during the remainder of 
our cruise. Jones by this, had got quite calm, and sent 
his servant to invite the lieutenant in confinement, to 
come and sup with him, who obeyed the summons, 
and even after went to his duty as before. This lieuten 
ant was raised to this station by captain Jones, and of 
course aided in that capacity only during the pleasure 
of the latter ; which was in fact, the situation of his three 

EM 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

lieutenants and sailing master, neither of which had a 
commission or warrant from the proper officer in the 
United States; and therefore were liable always, when 
Jones saw cause, to turn them afore the mast. It may be 
well here just to mention, that Jones s former lieuten 
ants, appointed by Congress, and regularly commis 
sioned, had had some dispute with him; in consequence 
of which they had quit him, carrying away their com 
missions with them, at the same time. This occurrence 
took place in Brest, when Captain Jones commanded 
the Ranger, of 18 guns, a United States ship of war; 
the first lieutenant of which commanded her after cap 
tain Jones left her, as I have been informed. 

On the lyth, saw the highlands of Dungarvan, upon 
the coast of Ireland, and a large ship to windward, 
standing in for the land to reconnoitre the coast. At 
4 P.M. the signal was made for the Alliance to make sail 
and see what it was, which was partly executed. The 
Alliance had got nearly within cannon shot, and then 
bore away to speak us, which she soon after did ; and 
the captain of the Alliance told captain Jones that the 
ship to windward was an English line of battle ship; 
for, said he, I did go near enough to see her upper 
battery; to this Jones made but a short reply, calling 
him a coward. From this time, a most inveterate hatred 
existed between these two captains, during the re 
mainder of our cruise; and which would break out at 
times, when there was the greatest need of their being 
united by the most friendly ties; as the nature of the 
service, and the honour of the American flag absolutely 
demanded it. The signal was now made for the whole 
squadron to chase the sail to windward, but night com 
ing on, she was soon out of sight. We afterwards were 

[253 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

informed by a fish boat that came alongside, that the 
ship we had been chasing was an English East-India- 
man. At 8 P.M. we had been set in shore by the current, 
in such a manner that we were close aboard of the rocks, 
and as it was nearly calm, several boats were got ahead 
of our ship, in order to tow her off from the breakers, 
which was done. At n o clock at night, the barge, 
which was the head-most boat, with eleven men, and 
one of our Lieutenants in her, cut from the rest, and 
rowed with all their might for the shore. The sailing- 
master was immediately ordered into the cutter, another 
of the boats belonging to our ship, with twelve armed 
men, to pursue these fugitives; and were, after they 
landed, close to the heels of the runaways, when they 
were all taken prisoners by the Irish: in this manner we 
lost two good experienced officers, and twenty-two of 
our best seamen. At 12 at night, there sprang up very 
suddenly, a terrible gale of wind from the N.E. which 
lasted about twenty hours; during which, we lost sight 
of the rest of the squadron, and in the height of the gale, 
one of our lower deck guns got loose, and came very 
near being the means of sinking our shipsj^efore we 
could secure it; and even without this incident, if the 
gale had continued as violent as the latter part of it was, 
four hours longer, we must inevitably have gone to the 
bottom; for our ship leaked so bad, that we could not 
with four pumps constantly at work, keep her free the 
latter part of the gale; which by the by, was no great 
wonderment, as she was a ship that had been in the 
King s service upwards of sixty years; and then was 
called a ship of the line, as having mounted 64 guns ; 
at the end of which time she was condemned in Brest, 
as not being seaworthy. The East India Company at 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

1 Orient, now purchased her, and fitted her for the 
Indies, where she made two voyages, at the expiration 
of which, she was again condemned as unfit for service 
in that trade, and laid up as a hulk in the Bason at 
1 Orient, among a number of old condemned ships be 
longing to the King of France. And in fact, at the time, 
and during the last gale, she almost wrung to pieces, 
and appeared to have as many joints in her back-bone 
as a rattlesnake. This was the ship in which Jones often 
said, he was able to capture an English sixty-four, pro 
vided he had fair play for it. The weather at last proved 
favourable, and we shaped our course for the Lewis s 
Islands, which lie north of Scotland; as this was the 
place appointed for the next rendezvous of our little 
squadron; in sight of which we arrived on the aoth of 
August. The day following, we captured 1 1 sail of 
vessels, one of which being valuable, we put a prize- 
master and seven men on board, and ordered her for 
1 Orient in France; the rest we sunk, all being English 
vessels bound from Ireland to Norway.* On the 22d, 
saw a large looking ship in shore of us, to which we 
gave chase, soon after we discovered three more sail in 
the north west quarter ; found we gained upon the chase, 
and soon came along side of her. She proved to be 
an English letter of marque, mounting 22 guns, a ship 
in the service of the British government, last from Leith, 
and bound for Quebec. She was laden with cables, 
cordage, and military stores, for the use of the British 
forces in Canada. She made no resistance, not even 
firing a gun (for the honour of the British flag) but 
dowsed her colours as soon as she was commanded to do 
it. At Meridian the other three sail which we had 
*And to the Kingdom of Denmark. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

discovered in the morning joined us, which were the 
Alliance with her prize (an English ship of war mount 
ing 24 guns, laden with the same kind of articles as the 
one we had captured but a few hours before, and con 
sort to her;) and the Pallais, also about the same time 
joined us ; and the next morning early we fell in with 
the brig Vengeance; but she could not tell what had 
become of the Cerf cutter, the other tender. The squad 
ron now stood in for the Orkney islands after having 
manned the two prizes and sent them for a port in 
France. We cruised off these islands several days, dur 
ing which we took, burnt, and destroyed, sixteen sail of 
vessels. We then shaped our course for the N.E. part 
of Scotland, where we arrived soon after, and took seven 
large colliers* and burnt them. After this we steered 
towards Edinburgh castle, off which we lay off and on 
for several days. On the loth of September commo 
dore Jones had a dispute with one of his lieutenants, and 
ordered him below under confinement to his cabin, and 
as he was descending the ladder, kicked him on the 
breach several times; in half an hour afterwards sent 
his servant to invite him (the lieutenant) to come and 
dine with him ; the lieutenant obeyed and went. Thus 
it was with Jones, passionate to the highest degree one 
minute, and the next, ready to make a reconciliation. 
Towards night a signal was made for all the captains 
and lieutenants belonging to the squadron to assemble 
on board the commodore s ship ; and when they were 
convened the commodore consulted with them relative 
to a plan which he said he had had in contemplation 
some time previous thereto; and that he had no doubt 
in his own mind, provided his officers would unani- 

* Ships in the coal trade. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

mously assist him, of succeeding in it. The plan was 
this; for the whole squadron to move up the river of 
Leith, wearing English colours, and his officers to wear 
the English navy uniform, which he had already pro 
vided ; and in passing Edinburgh castle* in this man 
ner, no suspicion would be entertained by the garrison 
of our being an enemy. In thus proceeding up said 
river, the probability was, that we might arrive before 
the city of Leith and come to anchor, get springs on 
our cables, and present our formidable broadsides to 
the citizens, who no doubt would be unprepared to 
make any resistance, the city being large and rich, 
being at some distance up a river, and not having any 
considerable fortifications to protect it from an invad 
ing foe, Edinburgh castle being a few miles from it, and 
which completely commanded the entrance of said 
river. Further, Jones s plan was, that as soon as the 
squadron was safe at anchor before the city, and ready 
for cannonading it, an officer was to have been sent to 
the city, bearing a flag of truce, whose demand was to 
be, that the citizens of Leith should pay one hundred 
thousand pounds sterling in half an hour. This sum 
was to be collected and transported on board the com 
modore s ship, at the expense and risk of the said citi 
zens instantaneously. Should they find it difficult to 
obtain so large a sum in so short a time, they 
were allowed to make up the deficiency in silver 
plate; but in case the terms on the part of 
the citizens, were not complied with, at the ex 
piration of half an hour, the town was to be set on fire 
by the squadron with red hot shot, as they were pre 
pared with them; after which we were to retreat or run 

*The strongest fortress in Great Britain. 

[29] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

away by the light of the flames as fast as possible. This 
plan, as might have been expected, at first met with 
some opposition, from a majority of Jones s officers, as 
it appeared to them to be a very rash and hazardous 
undertaking. For, admitting we could get up the river 
to Leith, without any difficulty or opposition ; yet they 
said, that the garrison at the castle of Edinburgh, which 
we would be obliged to pass and repass, might have 
warning in twenty minutes from Leith; where, pro 
vided we succeeded, we should be prevented from going 
off with our booty. And as this fortress commanded 
the entrance of the river, and being always well sup 
plied with men and guns, the lower teer consisting of 
20 forty-eight pounders, and the upper part of as many 
twenty-four pounders; and as we should have to pass 
within point blank shot of so many guns, they could 
not conceive how there could be even a probability of 
getting off clear. At length, after many pros and cons, 
Jones displayed so artfully his arguments in favor of 
his plan that it was agreed pretty unanimously to put 
it in immediate execution. Accordingly, all the officers 
belonging to the squadron were supplied with English 
navy uniforms, each according to his rank; and when 
they were thus apparelled the squadron made a stretch 
in near the castle, the wind then being favourable to 
run up the river, hove to within gun shot of the same, 
and made a signal for a pilot, who soon came on board 
the commodore s ship ; the other vessels likewise being 
each supplied with one, put us in a fair way to proceed 
up to Leith, but the tide then not serving, we were 
obliged to lie by a little longer. In the meantime, the 
English commanding officer at Leith, supposing us to 
be an English squadron, sent a boat on board the Ameri- 

[30] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

can Commodore s ship, requesting to know the name of 
him who commanded the squadron, (accompanied with 
the English officer s compliments;) the names of the 
ships, and whether he wanted any assistance of provi 
sions and the like; and if he intended coming up to 
Leith with his squadron, and if that was not his inten 
tion, (he, the governor, had sent by the bearer, an 
English officer,) a request for a barrel or two of pow 
der, as they had next to none in the fort at said place; 
further adding, that he understood there were then 
several American privateers cruising upon the coast, 
and which had taken several sail of English vessels and 
that the governor of Leith was fearful that they might 
come up the river in the night, and make some attempts 
to destroy the town; which he said might particularly 
at that time be easily effected, as the greater part of the 
citizens at that place were under great consternation and 
alarm, believing such an event quite probable. This 
message from the governor, particularly the request for 
powder, pleased Jones wonderful well. He therefore 
sent by the officer, his compliments to the governor, 
fictitious names for his ships and the commanders, corre 
sponding with the names of ships in the British navy, 
of the size and number of guns as those of his squadron, 
the captains whereof had already English names 
assigned them, and by which they were then called. 

The British officer having gone away for Leith with 
a barrel of powder, and compliments, as I before ob 
served, and we were only waiting for the turn of the 
tide, when the following incidents frustrated the whole 
of Jones s scheme of plundering the city of Leith, ( and 
like the baseless fabric of a vision, ) all his vast projects 
of wealth and agrandizement, became at once a shadow 

CsO 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

that passeth away, never more to appear again!!! Just 
before the tide was to have served, the wind shifted 
suddenly from the N.E. where it had been blowing 
some time, into the S.W. which blew down the river 
very fresh ; and about the same time a prize brig, which 
was then in company with us, and which we had cap 
tured while we lay at the mouth of the river, partly 
manned by Englishmen, ran on shore apparently on 
purpose, and the whole crew disembarked and ran for 
their lives, as fast as their legs would carry them. As 
soon as this was discovered, several boats armed, were 
dispatched from the squadron to overtake the runaways 
and bring them back, but to no purpose; for the men 
belonging to the brig had entirely effected their escape; 
and as it was apprehended that these deserters would 
endeavor to reach the castle as soon as possible, with an 
intention of informing who we were, no time was there 
fore to be lost; the signal was given for the boats which 
had been sent in pursuit of the deserters, to abandon the 
prize brig, which they were attempting to get off, and 
to return on board the squadron: this being done, the 
commodore ordered the sigp/l to be made for making 
sail upon our little fleet, and standing out to sea. This 
was done without receiving a single shot from Edin 
burgh castle, although the whole squadron had been for 
several hours within gun shot of it. On the nth, took 
two prizes; put prize masters and men on board of 
them, and ordered them for Dunkirk, in France. 

We now shaped our course for Scarborough, a sea 
port town in Yorkshire, and situated on the German 
Ocean, and soon arrived off this port. We cruised here 
several days, without meeting any thing but small Eng 
lish coasters, and pilot boats : the latter sloops, rigged 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

and decked, burthen about fifteen tons. One of these 
we converted into a small tender; she served us for a 
decoy, and likewise for to land in, when we had oc 
casion for fresh water and fresh provisions, &c./f On the 
2zd day of September, 1779, at 4 P.M. we discovered a 
fleet in the S.E. quarter, standing ifor Scarborough. At 
5 P.M. we could plainly discover that this fleet were con 
voyed by two sloops of war (English) the largest of 
which taking us to be an enemy, made the signal for 
the fleet to disperse and save themselves. The two 
sloops of war then made sail from us, as did also the 
merchantmen; although they had by this time got 
pretty near us. Our commodore also made the signal 
for our little squadron to chase the enemy s fleet by 
crowding all the sail we could set, soon after the Alli 
ance brought two of them to, who struck their colours. 
We had just put the 2d Lieutenant of our ship on 
board of the small tender, with about twenty men well 
armed, in order to take possession of these merchant 
vessels that were the nearest to us, when a fleet was dis 
covered in the Eastern board; the weather clearing off 
a little about the same time, we could count thirty-seven 
sail of vessels in that quarter, all apparently standing in 
for the land. As soon as Jones had taken a peep or two 
at them with his spy-glass, he expressed himself to his 
officers, then standing by him upon the quarter-deck, 
in this manner: that is the very fleet which I have been 
so long cruising for. He immediately ordered a signal 
to be made for the squadron to abandon the small fleet, 
\vhich we were then almost in the possession of, con 
sisting of thirteen sail of vessels, some of which was said 
to be very valuable. Another signal was made for the 
squadron to crowd all sail after the fleet in the Eastern 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

board, and without waiting for the tender, on board of 
which was one of his best officers, and twenty of our 
best men; he appeared to be impatient, till all the sail 
we could set on board of our ship, the wind then being 
between the south and west, was spread; and now came 
on a general chase for the enemy. At half past 6 o clock 
P.M. we were near enough to distinguish two of this fleet 
to be ships of war; one of them had the appearance of 
a frigate, and the other a sloop of war. These two ships 
perceiving that we were enemies; and that by our 
manoeuvering our intentions were to attack them, hove 
in stays, and stood off the land with a view, as after 
wards appeared, of engaging us : while the merchant 
ships kept hovering in with the land, but could not make 
a harbour as there was none nearer than Scarborough. 
At 7 P.M. made a signal to speak the Alliance and Pal- 
lais; in a quarter of an hour thereafter, spoke the Alli 
ance, when Capt. Jones, ordered the capt. of her to 
engage the largest of the two ships of war, in conjunc 
tion with the Good Man Richard; and that as soon as 
he had fired his broadsides, if a favourable opportunity 
then presented, to board her; and for that purpose to 
have his men in readiness. He answered, that the Com 
modore should be obeyed; this was succeeded by three 
cheers from the officers and crew of the Alliance. Also, 
ordered the capt. of the Pallais to engage the smallest 
ship of the enemy, who was now pretty near us ; we then 
had a breese from the S.S.W. of perhaps six knots. 
They soon after hove to, and hauled up their courses, 
and showed St. George s colours.* Our little squadron, 
drawn up in order of battle, shewed them the thirteen 

*A white field or flag with a red cross on it, and the union in the 
head. 

C34] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

stripes, colours which we fought under. Soon after the 
largest of the enemies ships made a signal in conse 
quence of which her consort, in the twinkling of an eye, 
set all the sail she could, and endeavoured to make her 
escape by running to the leeward. The Pallais, agree 
able to orders, made sail after her. The Alliance too, 
disobeying orders, quit her station and ran to the lee 
ward, making all the sail she could crowd ; so that we 
were now left alone; the Vengeance being then astern, 
and never come into the action, to contend with a ship 
far superior to ours, as will be seen hereafter. 

The command of the main top having been given to 
me some time before, I was ordered down on the quar 
ter-deck, as was the captains of the fore and mizzen- 
tops ; both midshipmen, and very young, neither of them 
exceeding seventeen years of age, when we received our 
orders from Capt. Jones, in person; and which was in 
substance, that at first and until the enemies tops were 
silenced, to direct the fire from our tops into the enemies 
tops, of the musquetry, blunderbusses, cowhorns, and 
swivels ; always taking care to fire into the enemies top 
nearest the one we occupied in our own ship; in order, 
he said, that we might, after silencing the enemies tops* 
have the fairer opportunity of clearing their decks. The 
captains of the tops, having received their orders, how 
to proceed during the action, then, within a few min 
utes of commencing, mounted to their stations, and 
drew up into the tops a double allowance of grog for 
their men. By this time we were near our antagonist, 
when she hauled down St. George s colours, and hoisted 

*It appeared after the action, that the captain of the English man 
of war had given orders to his top men to direct their fire down upon 
our quarter-deck, as he knew who commanded our ship. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the red flag, with the union on the upper corner of it, 
which the captain with his own hands nailed to the 
flag-staff: this was told us by some of his officers after 
the battle; and which fact the captain did not deny, 
after he was made a prisoner. 

Before I proceed to give the reader a relation of the 
action, it may be well to state the force of the two ships, 
with the number of men, &c. with the arrangements 
made on board of our ship before the battle. I have 
however, in a few pages back given a particular account 
of the Bon Homme Richard s force; but notwithstand 
ing, the reader, I hope, will not be displeased, when he 
will here see at one view the correct force, &c. of each 
ship, which will enable him, let him be of what country 
he may, to form a tolerable judgment, which had the 
advantage in this long and bloody battle; the Ameri 
cans or the English. Besides, the Good Man Richard 
had since she sailed from 1 Orient, lost some of her 
officers and men by desertion, others by manning prizes, 
and one lieutenant and about twenty men, who were on 
board the small tender, and did not come along side the 
Bon Homme Richard, till after the action was over. 

I begin first with the Good Man Richard of 40 guns ; 
viz. 

6 eighteen pounders upon her lower gun-deck; 

1 4 twelve do do do middle do 

14 nine do do do do do 

2 six do do do quarter do 

2 do do do do spar or upper do. viz. 

1 in each gangway; and lastly, 

2 six pounders upon the forecastle. 

N.B. Several men out of the vessels which we had 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

captured, having entered on board of our ship, and 
others of the same class who would not enter, but chose 
to fight, which they did, like brave fellows; these last, 
however, did not exceed seven or eight, so that the 
whole number of officers, men and boys, on board of the 
Good Man Richard, at the commencement of the 
action, did not exceed 380, men and boys. The greater 
part of these were Americans, I think to the number of 
300. The rest were English, French, Scotch, Irish, 
Portuguese and Maltese, in fact, a perfect medley of 
different nations. 

The Serapis, commanded by Captain Parsons, our 
antagonist, w r as rated a 44, but had mounted at the 
beginning of the battle, 50 guns : viz. 

20 eighteen pounders upon her lower gun-deck; 
20 nine do do do upper do 

6 six do do do quarter do 

4 do do do do fore-castle; carrying 

in all 305 men, including the officers, and about 
15 Lascars (East-Indians) 

Disposition made on board of our ship before the battle 
begun .... There were stationed 

In the main-top, myself, fifteen marines, and four sail 
ors, 20 

In the fore-top, one midshipman, ten marines, and three 
sailors, 14 

In the mizzen-top, one midshipman, six marines, and 
two sailors, 9 

On the poop, a French Colonel, a volunteer, with 
twenty marines (French) 

On the quarter-deck, the commodore, a lieutenant- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

colonel, (Irish volunteer) three midshipmen, as 
aid-de-camps to the commodore, the purser, and a 
number of sailors and marines. 

The sailing-master was occasionally on the quarter 
deck, the ship s gangways, fore-castle and poop. 

One of the master s mates had charge of the 6 eighteen 
pounders upon the lower gun deck, where there 
were also stationed ten men to each of these guns. 

The first lieutenant, Richard Dale, was stationed upon 
the second or middle gun-deck, with the gunner 
and the other master s mate; these two last acted as 
lieutenants as occasion required, as we had at this 
time but one lieutenant on board, as the reader 
will recollect. The first lieutenant had a sufficient 
number of men stationed with him, for managing 
the guns, &c. 

The boatswains station was upon the forecastle, and he 
had the command of the guns mounted there, and 
also the forecastle men. 

The carpenter had no particular part of the ship as 
signed to him, but he was merely told to do his 
duty. 

The rest of the petty officers and crew were placed in 
different parts of the ship. 



I shall now proceed to give a circumstantial account 
of this famous BATTLE, fought on the night of the 
22d day of September, 1779, between the GOOD MAN 
RICHARD, an American ship of war commanded by 
John Paul Jones; and the SERAPIS, an English ship 
of war, commanded by Captain Parsons, off Flam- 
borough Head, upon the German Ocean. 

To proceed then with the thread of my journal, from 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

where the two ships were nearly within hail of each 
other, when captain Jones ordered the yards slung with 
chains, and our courses hauled up. By this time the 
Serapis had tacked ship, and bore down to engage us; 
and at quarter past 8, just as the moon was rising with 
majestic appearance, the weather being clear, the sur 
face of the great deep perfectly smooth, even as in a 
mill pond, the enemy hailed thus: What ship is that? 
(in true bombastic English stile, it being hoarse and 
hardly intelligible.) The answer from our ship was, 
Come a little nearer, and I will tell you. The next 
question was, by the enemy, in a contemptuous man 
ner, What are you laden with? The answer returned 
was, if my recollection does not deceive me, Round, 
grape, and double-headed shot. And instantly, the 
Serapis poured her range of upper and quarter-deck 
guns into us; as she did not shew her lower-deck guns 
till about ten minutes after the action commenced. The 
reason of this, I could not learn but suppose they in 
tended to have taken us without the aid of their lower- 
deck guns. We returned the enemies fire, and thus the 
battle began. At this first fire, three of our starboard 
lower-deck guns* burst, and killed the most of the men 
stationed at them. As soon as captain Jones heard of 
this circumstance, he gave orders not to fire the other 
three eighteen pounders mounted upon that deck; but 
that the men stationed to them, should abandon them. 
Soon after this we perceived the enemy, by their Ian- 
thorns, busy in running out their guns between decks, 
which convinced us the Serapis was a two decker, and 
more than our match. She had by this time got under 
our stern, which we could not prevent. And now she 

*Ten men were stationed to each of these guns. 

r.3911 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

raked us with whole broadsides, and showers of mus 
ketry. Several of her eighteen pound shot having 
gone through and through our ship, on board of which, 
she made a dreadful havock among our crew. The 
wind was now very light, and our ship not under proper 
command, and the Serapis out-sailing us by two feet to 
one; which advantage the enemy discovered, and im 
proved it, by keeping under our stern, and raking us 
fore and aft; till at length the poor French colonel, who 
was stationed upon the poop, rinding almost all his men 
slain, quit that station with his surviving men, and re 
tired upon the quarter-deck. All this time our tops 
kept up an incessant and well-directed fire into the 
enemies tops which did great execution. The Serapis 
continued to take a position, either under our stern, or 
athwart our bow; gauled us in such a manner that our 
men fell in all parts of the ship by scores. At this junc 
ture, it became necessary on the part of our commander, 
to give some orders to extricate us from this scene of 
bloody carnage; for, had it lasted one half an hour 
longer, in all human probability the enemy would 
have slain nearly all our officers and men; consequently 
we should have been compelled to strike our colours 
and yield to superior force. Accordingly, captain 
Jones ordered the sailing master, a true blooded yankee, 
whose name was Stacy, to lay the enemies ship on 
board; and as the Serapis soon after passed across our 
fore foot, our helm was put hard aweather, the main 
and mizzen topsails, then braced aback, were filled 
away, a fresh flaw of wind swelling them at that instant, 
which shot our ship quick ahead, and she ran her jib 
boom between the enemies star-board mizzen shrouds 
and mizzen vang. Jones at the same time cried out, 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

Well done, my brave lads, we have got her now; throw 
on board the grappling-irons, and stand by for board 
ing: which was done, and the enemy soon cut away the 
chains, which were affixed to the grappling-irons; more 
were thrown on board, and often repeated. And as we 
now hauled the enemies ship snug along side of ours, 
with the tailings to our grappling-irons; her jib-stay 
was cut away aloft and fell upon our ship s poop, where 
Jones was at the time, and where he assisted Mr. Stacy 
in making fast the end of the enemies jib-stay to our 
mizzen-mast. The former here checked the latter for 
swearing, by saying, Mr. Stacy, it is no time for swear 
ing now, you may by the next moment be in eternity; 
but let us do our duty. A strong current was now set 
ting in towards Scarborough, the wind ceased to blow, 
and the sea became as smooth as glass. By this time, 
the enemy finding that they could not easily extricate 
themselves from us let go one of their anchors, expect 
ing that if they could cut us adrift, the current would 
set us away out of their reach, at least for some time. 
The action had now lasted about forty minutes, and the 
fire from our tops having been kept up without inter 
mission, with musketry, blunderbusses, cowhorns, swiv 
els, and pistols, directed into their tops, that these last 
at this time, became silent, except one man in her fore- 
top, w r ho would once in a while peep out from behind 
the head of the enemies foremast and fire into our tops. 
As soon as I perceived this fellow, I ordered the 
marines in the main-top to reserve their next fire, and 
the moment they got sight of him to level their pieces 
at him and fire; which they did, and we soon saw this 
skulking tar, or marine, fall out of the top upon the 
enemies fore-castle. Our ensign-staff was shot away, 

C4O 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

and both that and the thirteen stripes fell into the sea 
in the beginning of the action. This ought to have been 
mentioned before, but I had so many other circum 
stances to relate of more importance, and the succession 
of them was so quick, one close upon the heels of an 
other, that I hope the reader will take this for an ex 
cuse. Both ships now lying head and stern, and so near 
together that our heaviest cannon amidships, as well as 
those of the enemy, could not be of any use, as they 
could neither be spunged nor loaded. In this situation, 
the enemy, to prevent (as they told us afterwards) our 
boarding them, leaped on board* of our ship, and some 
of them had actually got upon the fore part of our 
quarter-deck; several were there killed, and the rest 
driven back on board of their own ship, whither some 
of our men followed them, and were most of them killed. 
Several other attempts to board were made by both 
parties in quick succession, in consequence of which 
many were slain upon the two ships gang ways, on both 
sides. We were now something more than a league 
E. by S. from a point of land called Flamborough 
Head, and in about ten or twelve fathoms of water (and 
the reader may rest assured, as the Serapis s anchor was 
at the bottom, and her crew not having any leisure time 
to weigh it,) we remained here until the battle was at 
an end. At this time the enemy s fleet was discernable 
by moon-light in shore of us, but could not perceive any 
of our squadron except the brig Vengeance, and the 
small tender, which lay about half a league astern of us, 
neither of whom dared to come to our assistance. It 
had now got to be about forty-eight minutes since the 

*Both ships now lay so near each other, that one could step from 
one ship to the other. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

action began, as near as I can judge, for we had no 
time to keep glasses running, or to look at our watches. 
The enemy s tops being entirely silenced, the men in 
ours had nothing to do but to direct their whole fire 
down upon the enemy s decks and forecastle; this we 
did, and with so much success that in about twenty-five 
minutes more we had cleared her decks* so that not a 
man on board the Serapis was to be seen. However, 
they still kept up a constant fire, with four of their fore 
most bow guns on the starboard side ; viz, two eighteen 
pounders upon the lower gun-deck, and two nine 
pounders upon her upper gun-deck; these last were 
mounted upon her forecastle, under cover from our fire 
from our tops ; her cannon upon the larboard side, upon 
the quarter-deck and forecastle, from the position of 
both ships, were rendered altogether useless; her four 
guns which she could manage, annoyed us very much, 
and did our ship considerable damage. About this time 
the enemy s light sails, which were filled onto the 
Serapis s cranes over her quarter-deck sails caught fire; 
this communicated itself to her rigging and from thence 
to ours ; thus were both ships on fire at one and the same 
time; therefore the firing on both sides ceased till it 
was extinguished by the contending parties, after which 
the action was renewed again. By this time, the top- 
men in our tops had taken possession of the enemy s 
tops, which was done by reason of the Serapis s yards 
being locked together with ours, that we could with 
ease go from our main top into the enemy s fore top, 
and so on from our fore top into the Serapis s main top. 
Having knowledge of this, we transported from our 
own into the enemy s tops, stink pots, flasks, hand 

* Quarter and main deck guns is here meant. 

C43II 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

grenadoes, &c. which we threw in among the enemy 
whenever they made their appearance. The battle had 
now continued about three hours, and as we, in fact, had 
possession of the Serapis s top, which commanded her 
quarter-deck, upper gun-deck and forecastle, we were 
well assured that the enemy could not hold out much 
longer, and were momently expecting that they would 
strike to us, when the following farcical piece was acted 
on board our ship. 

It seems that a report was at this time, circulated 
among our crew between decks, and was credited 
among them, that captain Jones and all his principal 
officers were slain; the gunners were now the com 
manders of our ship ; that the ship had four or five feet 
of water in her hold;* and that she was then sinking: 
they therefore advised the gunner to go upon deck, to 
gether with the carpenter, and master at arms, and beg 
of the enemy quarters, in order, as they said, to save 
their lives. These three men being thus delegated, 
mounted the quarter-deck, and bawled out as loud as 
they could, Quarters, quarters, for God s sake, quar 
ters! our ship is a sinking! and immediately got upon 
the ship s poop with a view of hauling down our 
colours. Hearing this in the top, I told my men that 
the enemy had struck and was crying out for quarters, 
for I actually thought that the voices of these men 
sounded as if on board of the enemy; but in this I was 
soon undeceived. The three poltroons, finding the en 
sign, and ensign-staff gone, they proceeded upon the 
quarter-deck, and were in the act of hauling down our 
pendant, still bawling for quarters! when I heard our 

*This was told the gunner by the carpenter, who certainly had a 
right to know. 

C441 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

commodore say, in a loud voice, what d d rascals 
are them shoot them kill them! He was upon the 
forecastle when these fellows first made their appear 
ance upon the quarter-deck where he had just dis 
charged his pistols at some of the enemy. The car 
penter, and the master-at-arms, hearing Jones s voice, 
sculked below, and the gunner was attempting to do the 
same, when Jones threw both of his pistols at his head, 
one of which struck him in the head, fractured his scull, 
and knocked him down, at the foot of the gang-way 
ladder, where he lay till the battle was over.* Both 
ships now took fire again; and on board of our ship it 
communicated to, and set our main top on fire, which 
threw us into the greatest consternation imaginable 
for some time, and it was not without some exertions 
and difficulty that it was overcome. The water which 
we had in a tub, in the fore part on the top, was ex 
pended without extinguishing the fire. We next had 
recourse to our clothes, by pulling off our coats and 
jackets, and then throwing them upon the fire, and 
stamping upon them, which in a short time, smothered 
it. Both crews were also now, as before, busily em 
ployed in stopping the progress of the flames, and the 
firing on both sides ceased. The enemy now demanded 
of us if we had struck, as they had heard the three pol 
troons halloo for quarters. If you have, said they, 
why don t you haul down your pendant; as they saw 
our ensign was gone. Ay, ay, said Jones, we ll do 
that when we can fight no longer, but we shall see yours 
come down the first; for you must know, that Yankees 
do not haul down their colours till they are fairly 
beaten. The combat now recommenced again with 

* His scull was trepanned and he afterwards got well. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

more fury if possible than before, on the part of both, 
and continued for a few minutes, when the cry of fire 
was again heard on board of both ships. The firing 
ceased, and both crews were once more employed in ex 
tinguishing it, which was soon effected, when the battle 
was renewed again with redoubled vigour, with what 
cannon we could manage: hand grenadoes, stink pots, 
&c., but principally, towards the closing scene, with 
lances and boarding pikes. With these the combatants 
killed each other through the ship s port holes, which 
were pretty large ; and the guns that had been run out at 
them becoming useless, as before observed, had been 
removed out of the way. At three quarters past 1 1 P.M. 
the Alliance frigate hove in sight, approached within 
pistol shot of our stern, and began a heavy and well- 
directed fire into us, as well as the enemy, which made 
some of our officers as well as men believe that she was 
an English man of war. (The moon at this time, as 
though ashamed to behold this bloody scene any longer, 
retired behind a dark cloud.) It was in vain that some 
of our officers hailed her, and desired them not to fire 
any more; it was in vain they were told that they were 
firing into the wrong ship ; it was in vain that they were 
told that they had slain a number of our men; it was in 
vain also that they were told that the enemy was fairly 
beaten, and that she must strike her colours in a few 
minutes. The Alliance, I say, notwithstanding all this, 
kept a position either ahead of us or under our stern, 
and made a great deal of havock and confusion on 
board of our ship; and she did not cease firing entirely, 
till the signal of recognisance was displayed in full 
view on board of our ship ; which was three lighted Ian- 
thorns ranged in a horizontal line about fifteen feet 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

high, upon the fore, main and mizzen shrouds, upon 
the larboard side. This was done in order to undeceive 
the Alliance, and which had the desired effect, and the 
firing from her ceased. And at thirty-five minutes past 
12 at night, a single hand grenado having been thrown 
by one of our men out of the main top of the enemy, 
designing it to go among the enemy, who were huddled 
together between her gun decks; it on its way struck on 
one side of the combings of her upper hatchway,* and 
rebounding from that, it took a direction and fell be 
tween their decks, where it communicated to a quantity 
of loose powder scattered about the enemy s cannon; 
and the hand grenado bursting at the same time, made 
a dreadful explosion, and blew up about twenty of the 
enemy. This closed the scene, and the enemy now in 
their turn, (notwithstanding the gasconading of capt. 
Parsons) bawled out Quarters, quarters, quarters, for 
God s sake! It was, however, some time before the 
enemy s colours were struck. The captain of the 
Serapis gave repeated orders for one of his crew to 
ascend the quarter-deck and haul down the English 
flag, but no one would stir to do it. They told the Cap 
tain they were afraid of our rifle-men; believing that 
all our men who were seen with muskets, were of that 
description. The captain of the Serapis therefore 
ascended the quarter-deck, and hauled down the very 
flag which he had nailed to the flag-staff a little before 
the commencement of the battle; and which flag he had 
at that time, in the presence of his principal officers, 

*The hatchways are generally taken off during an action; for this 
reason, that if anything thrown on board, such as a hand grenado and 
the like, happens to fall in through the hatchway, it descends down 
upon the haul-up-deck, where if it bursts it will injure nobody. 

r.473 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

swore he never would strike to that infamous pirate J. 
P. Jones. The enemy s flag being struck, captain Jones 
ordered Richard Dale, his first lieutenant, to select out 
of our crew a number of men, and take possession of 
the prize, which was immediately put in execution. 
Several of our men, (I believe three) were killed by 
the English on board of the Serapis after she had struck 
to us, for which they afterwards apologized, by saying, 
that the men who were guilty of this breach of honour, 
did not know at the time, that their own ship had struck 
her colours. Thus ended this ever memorable battle, 
after a continuance of a few minutes more than four 
hours. The officers, headed by the captain of the 
Serapis, now came on board of our ship; the latter, 
(captain Parsons) enquired for captain Jones, to whom 
he was introduced by Mr. Mase, our purser. They 
met, and the former accosted the latter, in presenting 
his sword, in this manner: It is with the greatest re 
luctance that I am now obliged to resign you this, for 
it is painful to me, more particularly at this time, when 
compelled to deliver up my sword to a man, who may 
be said to fight with a halter around his neck! Jones, 
after receiving his sword, made this reply: Sir, you 
have fought like a hero, and I make no doubt but your 
sovereign will reward you in a most ample manner for 
it. Captain Parsons then asked Jones what country 
men his crew principally consisted of; the latter said, 
Americans. Very well, said the former, it has been 
diamond cut diamond, with us. Captain Parsons s offi 
cers had, previous to coming on board of our ship, de 
livered their side arms to lieutenant Dale. Captain 
Parsons in his conversation with captain Jones, owned 
that the Americans were equally as brave as the Eng- 

C483 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

lish. The two captains now withdrew into the cabin, 
and there drank a glass or two of wine together. Both 
ships were now separated from each other, and were 
mere wrecks; the Serapis s three masts having nothing 
to support them,* fell overboard with all the sails, tops, 
yards, rigging, &c., belonging to them, making a 
hideous noise in the water; they had been shot off by 
our guns in the early part of the action. The main 
mast about one foot above the ship s gangway and quar 
ter-deck; the fore-mast just below the fore top, and the 
mizzen mast about ten feet above her quarter-deck. 
Several eighteen pound shot had gone through our 
main-mast, and most of the shrouds belonging to it were 
cut away, so that nothing kept it standing but the stop 
pers, put on them by the quarter-masters, where the 
shrouds had been shot away. We that were stationed 
on the main top found it, during a part of the action, a 
very ticklish situation, from which we were ordered 
down upon the quarter-deck as soon as the English had 
struck. 

We were now much alarmed on board of our ship in 
consequence of having two more enemies to encounter 
with, almost as formidable as those we had but just con 
quered, viz. fire and water. Our pumps** had been kept 
going without any intermission for about two hours, 
and still the water in the ship s hold increased fast. The 
ship had received several shot in her bottom so low, or 
so far under water, that it was impossible to find means 
to stop them up, so that it was reduced to a certainty 
that she must sink in a short time. The fire had com- 

*They were kept standing during the greater part of the action 
by our yards and rigging being locked and entangled with theirs. 
**Four of them. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

municated itself to several parts of our ship (made up 
with rotten wood, pitch, tar and oakum;) this being 
the case, the more water thrown on the fire, the more 
furiously it would burn ; in fact the effect was the same 
as throwing water upon and over a pot or kettle of 
pitch, tar or turpentine, when on fire. The fire had 
now penetrated to within the thickness of a pine board 
to the bulk head of the magazine of powder; it was 
therefore found to be impracticable to extinguish the 
fire, or to free the ship of water; for we well knew that 
one of two things must happen; either the ship would 
burn down to the water s edge and then sink, or she 
would sink first. In this dilemma Jones ordered the 
signal of distress to be hung out, which the Alliance, 
Pallais and Vengeance observing, sent their boats to our 
assistance. The powder was now ordered to be got out 
of our magazine, and that no man should quit the Good 
Man Richard till every cask of powder was safe on 
board of the boats then alongside. The English officers 
were much frightened at this, as was the case with many 
of us, as the fire was at that moment in and about the 
powder room, and we expected every moment to be 
blown into the air. The English officers therefore, as 
sisted us in getting up the powder; and captain Jones 
encouraged them by telling them that he would not 
abandon his own ship till every cask of powder was out 
of her. This piece of service being accomplished in a 
few minutes, after which Jones and the English officers 
embarked on board of the boats, and went on board of 
the Serapis, first leaving orders with his officers to 
abandon the Good Man Richard after we had got all 
the wounded men and English prisoners out of her and 
put them on board of the squadron. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 
f 
One circumstance relative to the first lieutenant, by 

the name of Stanhope,* is so singular, that I am in 
duced to relate the fact: it was this, early in the action 
he hung himself down by one of the Serapis s stern lad 
ders into the water, so that his body was immersed in 
water; in this >i{uation he hung with only his head 
above water during the remainder of the action. It 
was noticed by one of our officers when Stanhope sur 
rendered among his brother officers, and came on our 
quarter deck, that he appeared to be entirely wet, and 
the question was put to him how his clothes came to be 
wet. He said he had just before the Serapis struck, 
attempted to sound her pump-well to see how much 
water she had in her, and fell into it. But the petty 
officers of the Serapis declared to us, that the fact was 
as above stated, and was also confirmed by several of 
the English sailors belonging to that ship. 

The Pallais had captured the consort to the Serapis, 
an English ship of war mounting 22 guns, and called 
the Countess of Scarborough, after a brisk action, which 
lasted about half an hour, which two ships now joined 
the squadron. The Serapis having been pierced with 
several shot during the action between wind and water 
was thought to be sinking; consequently, the assistance 
of the crews of the different ships composing the squad 
ron was demanded on board of the Serapis; the chain 
pumps on board of her were kept constantly going, and 
the cranks attached to them were double manned, and 
were often relieved. Two chain pumps, the num- 

*This man, who was said to be a lord s son, was for his bravery 
on board the Serapis, afterwards appointed to the command of an 
English frigate. This is proof among many others of a similar kind, 
that to be promoted by the English government does not always de 
pend upon merit. 

c$t 3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

her the Serapis then had, if kept at work as fast as possi 
ble, are allowed to deliver about a ton of water in a 
minute; the reader may therefore, according to this 
computation, form some judgment how much water 
must have been pumped out of the Serapis in four 
hours, the time taken with the pumps constantly going 
for sucking her out. The carpenters at this time em 
ployed in stopping shot holes, &c. 

But to return to the Good Man Richard, where we 
were busily employed in getting out the wounded, and 
embarking them on board of the boats belonging to the 
squadron, when the alarm was given, that the English 
prisoners, to the number of about fifty, and who had 
been let out of confinement after the battle, had taken 
possession of our ship and were running her on shore; 
and they were at this time absolutely masters of the 
quarter-deck, spar-deck and fore-castle, and had got 
the ship before the wind, and her yards squared by the 
braces, steering directly in for the land, the wind being 
about east. In consequence of this, another battle en 
sued, but we having in our possession the greater part 
of the arms suitable for a close fight, and although they 
out-numbered us, we soon overpowered them, and 
again became masters of the ship; not, however, until 
we had killed two of them, and wounded and drove 
overboard several others. These last, about thirteen in 
number, took possession of one of the boats laying 
alongside of our ship and made their escape to land. 
After this, the rest of these desperate Englishmen were 
ordered into the boats and transported on board the 
Pallais. 

I now took a full view of the mangled carcasses of 
the slain on board of our ship; especially between 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

decks, where the bloody scene was enough to appal the 
stoutest heart. To see the dead lying in heaps to hear 
the groans of the wounded and dying the entrails of 
the dead scattered promiscuously around, the blood 
(American too) over ones shoes, was enough to move 
pity from the most hardened and callous breast. And 
although my spirit was somewhat dampened at this 
shocking sight, yet when I came to reflect that we were 
conquerors, and over those who wished to bind America 
in chains of everlasting slavery; my spirits revived, and 
I thought perhaps that some faithful historian would 
at some future period enrol me among the heroes and 
deliverers of my country. Pardon me, gentle reader, 
for this involuntary digression, and let this be my ex 
cuse, that I felt the spirit which infused courage into 
my breast on the night of, and during the battle which 
I have just given you a faithful relation of, even while 
my pen was tracing the dreadful conflict. 

The two prizes were king s ships, and before cap 
tured, they were convoying a fleet from the Baltic to 
Scarborough, in England, consisting of thirty odd sail, 
not one of which was taken by any one of our squadron, 
although they were in sight during the battle, and were 
to be seen by us the morning after near the land, and no 
orders \vere given, nor no attempts made by either of 
our squadron to take possession of any of them. The 
reason was, that the then wrecked situation of the 
Serapis was such that it required the utmost exertions 
of all who belonged to the squadron to save this valua 
ble ship.* 

*She was a new ship only four months off the stocks, completely 
coppered and would if preserved make a valuable acquisition to the 
rising navy of America. 

CS33 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

However, it is certain that had the captain of the 
Alliance frigate obeyed the orders given to him before 
the commencement of the action by the commander in 
chief, which the reader no doubt remembers, the whole 
of the enemy s fleet must have fallen into our hands; 
this the English commander acknowledged after the 
fight. But after this long and hard fought battle was 
over, it was not thought advisable, for reasons before 
given, to dispatch either of the squadron to capture any 
of the English merchant ships. 

Having now executed the orders left us by captain 
Jones, we thought of leaving the Good Man Richard 
to the mercy of the winds and waves. The wind now 
blowing a fresh gale at N.E. I went down into the gun 
room with some others, to see the lieutenants and other 
officers trunks taken out from thence, and put into the 
boats. But, good God ! what havoc ! not a piece of them 
could be found, as large as a continental dollar! Tis 
true we found several shirts, coats, &c. but so shock 
ingly were they pierced with the enemy s shot, round 
and grape, that they were of no value. In fact such a 
large breach was made through and through our ship s 
quarter and gun room, that provided the ship could 
have been placed upon the land in a position so as to 
have buried her in it to her lower gun deck, one might 
have drove in with a coach and six, at one side of this 
breach and out at the other, the splinters and pieces of 
our ship that were here, scattered about upon the deck 
were in heaps, and perhaps twenty carpenters at work 
upon wood and timber, would not have made as many 
in five days constant labour. Upon the whole, I think 
this battle, and every circumstance attending it mi 
nutely considered, may be ranked with propriety, the 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

most bloody, the hardest fought, and the greatest scene 
of carnage on both sides, ever fought between two ships 
of war of any nation under heaven. 

During the action, the enemy threw into our gun 
room upwards of one hundred eighteen pound car 
tridges, with a view, as they owned, of blowing our ship 
up. And even had this took place, the reader will not 
be mistaken I presume, in his conclusion, that both 
ships, their officers and crews must have all met the 
same fate. For if our ship had blown up, laying so near 
the enemy s, we must have all gone into eternity to 
gether, not a single doubt remains in my mind, but this 
would have been the inevitable result. The officers be 
longing to our ships, in this action lost all their wearing 
apparel except what they then stood in, with their 
trunks, hats, &c. For my own part, the coat I then had 
on my back, was partly burnt when our main top caught 
fire; in consequence of which, together with the black 
ness of my face with powder, I had more the appear 
ance of a runaway negro, than that of an American offi 
cer. We that were now on board of the Good Man 
Richard, thought of nothing but of abandoning her, as 
she was to serve as a coffin for many of my brave coun 
try men, who had fought and died in the bed of honour, 
while they were fighting for our liberty. It was even 
painful for me to quit forever this ship, on board of 
which so much bravery had been displayed during this 
battle; but necessity and self preservation required it 
to be done, and that promptly, as her lower hold was 
at this time nearly full of water. We accordingly em 
barked on board of the small tender,* and soon after 
reached the Serapis. There captain Jones desired me 

*The same I heretofore have spoken of. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

not to get on board of her, but to remain where I then 
was, take three hands with me and return on board of 
the Good Man Richard: for said he, I have left in such 
a part of her cabin, naming the place, sundry valuable 
papers, and you must go back and get them, even at the 
risque of your life; but be sure not to make any tarry. 
After having received such positive orders, I knew it 
would be in vain to remonstrate, although I was quite 
sensible it was a kind of forlorn Don Quixote under 
taking. I therefore made sail upon my little bark, and 
shaped my course, but doubting within myself what 
would be the result. The wind then blew a fresh gale, 
and there was at the time a pretty bad sea running. I 
say, I shaped my course for the poor old ship, which 
was then about a mile from the Serapis; and before I 
had got out of hail, I was by captain Jones ordered not 
to run any risque. Arriving alongside of the Good Man 
Richard, under her guns, we found her lying nearly 
head to the wind, with her topsails aback, and the water 
running in and out at her lower deck ports: we shot 
along under her stern, where we were becalmed. I now 
ordered the oars to be got out, as I found by her motion, 
and by her being nearly under water, that she was on 
the point of sinking; this somewhat staggered me, and 
I ordered my men who were with me to pull at the 
oars with all their might. Finding our situation very 
dangerous, we got off about four rods from her, when 
she fetched a heavy pitch into a sea and a heavy roll, 
and disappeared instantaneously, being about two hours 
after we had taken possession of the Serapis. The suc 
tion occasioned by this, together with the agitation of 
the waters, was so great that it was perhaps a minute 
before we could be certain whether we were above or 
under the water, and in consequence of which we 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

shipped several hogsheads of water, and if our little 
barque had not been decked we must have met the fate 
of the Good Man Richard. 

We now attempted to get on board the Serapis, but 
the gale of wind that succeeded this sad catastrophe pre 
vented us for some time thereafter. The weather be 
came suddenly very thick, in consequence of which we 
lost sight of the Serapis and the rest of the squadron. 
The wind increased, and the seas run high, so that we 
were obliged to get a balance mainsail upon our little 
bark and heave her to ; by this time she leaked so bad 
that it was not without the greatest difficulty that we 
could keep her above water. Thus we continued tossed 
and driven about for about thirty hours, part of that 
time at the mercy of the winds and waves, at the end of 
which the wind began to abate and the sea became more 
smooth. In the whole of this time, we had not on board 
one ounce of beef, pork, bread nor any kind of eatables 
whatever, and but one quart of fresh water. Soon after 
this we arrived alongside of the Serapis, with light 
hearts and hungry stomachs, where we were received 
with a hearty welcome and a great deal of joy, es 
pecially by the commodore, who had, it seemed, given 
us over for lost. 

The weather soon after fell nearly calm, every offi 
cer and man on board the Serapis had full employ (ex 
cepting the sick and the wounded) in erecting jury 
masts, rigging them, &c. For this purpose we got from 
the Alliance three spare topmasts, and other spars. The 
former ship had several of the kind, but they were 
pierced through with shotholes received from the Good 
Man Richard in several places, which rendered them 
unfit for this service. 

After having called over the roll of that ship s offi- 

[57: 



TANNING S NARRATIVE 

cers and crew, by the direction of the commodore, it 
was reduced to a certainty that we had lost in the late 
battle, one hundred and sixty-five officers, men, and 
boys killed, and one hundred and thirty-seven wounded 
and missing.* Of the wounded, nearly one hundred 
of that number were thrown overboard from the vessels 
in the squadron, where they had been conveyed after 
the action. With regard to so many of the wounded 
having died, it was probably owing to the unskilful- 
ness of the surgeons who amputated them. The fact 
was, we had but one surgeon in the squadron who really 
knew his duty, and that was doctor Brooks, a Virginian ; 
this man was as bloody as a butcher from the com 
mencement of the battle until towards night of the day 
after. The greater part of the wounded had their legs 
or arms shot away, or the bones so badly fractured that 
they were obliged to suffer under the operation of 
amputation. Some of these poor fellows having once 
gone through this severe trial by the unskilled surgeons, 
were obliged to suffer another amputation in one, two, 
or three days thereafter by doctor Brooks; and they 
being put on board the different vessels composing the 
squadron, made it difficult for doctor Brooks to pay 
that attention to them which their cases required: be 
sides, the gale of wind which succeeded the action, and 
which I have made mention of, made it altogether im 
practicable for him to visit the wounded, he being all 
this time on board the Serapis, excepting such of them 
as were on board of this ship. The gunner, at the close 
of the action, whom I before noticed, was found among 
the wounded, and who got well of his wound; but for 

* Several wounded men were carried on board the different vessels 
in the squadron, but these were all included in this account. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the act of cowardice, which he had been guilty of, by 
begging for quarters of the enemy during the action, he 
was turned before the mast, and made to do duty as a 
common sailor, which was all the punishment he re 
ceived for his crime. 

The Serapis was not only dismasted in the fight, but 
her quarter rails, crane, nettings, and the like, were 
compleately levelled with her quarter-deck; her bow 
sprit was nearly rendered useless by our shot; as was 
also her boats, and several of her cannon was in a simi 
lar situation having been dismounted. The slaughter, 
however, among the officers and men was not so great 
as on board of the Good Man Richard. By her muster 
roll, it appeared that the Serapis lost in the action one 
hundred and thirty-seven of her crew killed, including 
officers, and about seventy-six wounded ; in which num 
ber are included near twenty who were blown up at the 
closing scene of the action by a hand grenado and 
powder, not one of which recovered: they lingered 
along for two or three days, and they were burnt in such 
a shocking manner that the flesh of several of them 
dropped off from their bones, and they died in great 
pain. 

During the foregoing battle, there were by computa 
tion fifteen hundred people upon the land on Flam- 
borough Head and near it, who beheld this scene of 
human carnage and some of whom I have since seen 
said that the tops of the nearest ship to the land, which 
was the Good Man Richard, after the first of the action, 
appeared to the beholders as in a constant blaze of fire. 

On the 26th of September, four days after the battle 
the Serapis was in a condition to have sail made upon 
her. Accordingly we crouded all the sail we could 

C593 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

and steered for the coast of Holland, in company with 
the squadron. The next day an English 64, and three 
frigates, which had been dispatched by the British gov 
ernment to capture us, arrived upon the very spot where 
the action was fought, and where they got intelligence 
from a small boat that our squadron was last seen stand 
ing towards Holland, towards which they directed 
their course, and crouded all sail after us. 

On the 3d of October, we arrived with our little 
squadron, off the Texel bar, from whence the com 
modore despatched his first lieutenant in the barge, 
with a complimentary letter to the Dutch admiral who 
commanded several Dutch men of war then at anchor 
in the Texel Roads, requesting permission for the 
squadron under the command of the American com 
modore, then in the offing, to enter the Texel, and come 
to in the Road. At this time the Dutch were not at war 
with the English. The lieutenant soon after returned 
with an absolute refusal on the part of the Dutch ad 
miral, alledging that his masters, meaning their high 
mightinesses, would not approve of such a measure. 
By this time the English squadron spoken of above hove 
in sight; and our ship was certainly not in a condition 
to go into battle, as we had not men sufficient on board 
to man our great guns; besides, between decks were 
filled pretty much with wounded men, and who would 
be in the way of managing the heaviest cannon we had 
on board. No time was therefore to be lost; and cap 
tain Jones with a presence of mind which never for 
sook him in the most critical situation, again dispatched 
his lieutenant and wrote the Dutch admiral, describing 
in the most forcible manner the danger his squadron 
was in, and closed this message by telling the Dutch ad- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

miral in spirited language, that if he the second time 
should refuse to grant his request, he must abide the 
consequence; for that if he (Jones) had not permission 
he should nevertheless on the return of his boat make 
sail and enter the Texel and place himself under the 
protection of the Dutch admiral. This had the desired 
effect, and the officer returned on board with a favoura 
ble answer from the admiral, and we having previous 
to that received pilots on board; the signal was made 
for entering the Texel Roads. The English were at 
this time but a little more than cannon shot off. Ar 
riving within the Dutch ships of war, the squadron 
came to anchor in about eight fathoms of water; where, 
before our ship, (the Serapis) had furled her sails, the 
Dutch admiral sent his barge, with an officer in her, to 
compliment captain Jones on his safe arrival, and to 
beg his company on board the admiral s ship, which I 
think was called the Amsterdam. As soon as the com 
modore was seated in his barge the crews of the vessels 
of our squadron gave him three cheers, and on his re 
turn we saluted the Dutch admiral, and he returned the 
salute. This transaction must have been very gauling 
to the English on board of their fleet, then lying off and 
on without the bar, and who must have heard every 
gun, as they were not more than four miles from us. 
Soon after our arrival here we obtained liberty from 
the Stadtholder to land our sick and wounded men 
upon an island in the bay, the name of which I cannot 
recollect. 

Captain Parsons, with his officers, were paroled upon 
the Helder by permission of the prince of Orange, 
about a fortnight after our arrival in the Texel. 

Not long after this, captain L , who had com- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

manded the Alliance, was suspended from his com 
mand by the American minister at Paris: This was 
done in consequence of captain Jones representation to 
the former of L - s cowardice and bad conduct 
before we arrived here, and he was ordered to Paris. 
However, before he set out, he sent captain Cotteneau, 
who commanded the Pallais, a written challenge to 
fight him: he accepted it, and both went on shore pre 
pared with their seconds, &c. at the Helder, where they 

fought a duel with their swords. L , came off 

victorious, and Cotteneau was very dangerously 
wounded. 

L , as soon as this was over, sent another writ 
ten challenge to captain Jones, but the latter, perhaps 
not thinking it prudent to expose himself with a single 
combatant, who was a complete master of the small 
sword, declined accepting the challenge; but answered 

the man who sent it, by ordering L under arrest, 

who hearing of it, eluded those who were to execute 
this order, and immediately set out for Paris. 

The captain of the Serapis, when taken, had silver 
plate and other articles in her cabin to a large amount, 
which according to the rules of war certainly belonged 
to the captors ; but captain Jones, instead of taking the 
advantage of this, had every article belonging to captain 
Parsons packed together in trunks, and sent his lieu 
tenant on shore to the Helder, with his compliments to 
captain Parsons, and with these effects, together with 
directions for him to accept of them as coming from 
captain Jones, who had certainly the best right to them 
of the two (wearing apparel belonging to himself* and 
servants excepted.) The first lieutenant went on shore, 

* Parsons. 

C62] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

delivered captain Jones s message, and returned with 
the trunks, &c. and brought a verbal answer from this 
haughty English captain, purporting that he would not 
receive the articles in question, by the hands of a rebel 
officer; but at the same time intimated that he would 
receive the articles by the hands of captain Cotteneau 
(who held his commission under the French king) 
and who was immediately sent for, and directed by cap 
tain Jones to carry the articles on shore to captain Par 
sons.* This commission captain Cotteneau executed, 
and when he returned back reported to captain Jones 
that captain Parsons had graciously received the ar 
ticles, but had not condescended to return any thanks 
or compliments to the former, which in my opinion 
shewed a great want of good breeding and politeness 
in the latter. All the English prisoners on board of 
the squadron were landed on an island,** amounting 
to five hundred and thirty-seven, and were here main 
tained by the American agent then residing at Amster 
dam, by special permission of the Dutch government. 
About the same time, the English minister residing at 
the Hague, and whose name I think was Sir Joseph 
Yorke, made heavy complaints to the Prince of Orange, 
and their high mightinesses, on the score of our being 
in a Dutch port; and that they had suffered his Britanic 
majesty s rebel subjects to take refuge in the Texel who 
had made prizes of two of his Majesty s ships of war; 
and that the Dutch admiral had countenanced this 
measure, by protecting the said rebels, otherwise his 
majesty s ships which were dispatched from England 
on purpose to capture these rebel vessels, would have 

* His sword and pistols were also sent him. 
* Near by where we lay. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

taken every one of them. Soon after this there appeared 
to be a coolness existing between the Dutch admiral and 
the American commodore, as they did not after this 
visit each other as usual. 

Captain Jones now set off for Amsterdam, and was 
there well received by the Dutch, and treated with 
every mark of distinction, which gave great umbrage 
to the English minister, who had the impudence to re 
quire of the Dutch government the delivering up of 
the two English ships of war, and all the English 
prisoners then in our possession; and to this he de 
manded a categorical answer. The Dutch government 
were intimidated, and wished for time to deliberate 
upon so important a subject; the English minister was 
not willing to allow more than three days for the Dutch 
government to draw up an answer; this the government 
thought too short a time, and the minister threatened to 
leave the Hague and embark for England. While at 
Amsterdam, captain Jones was carressed the same as 
though he had been in the Dutch service, and they at 
war with England; in fact he was treated as a con 
queror. This so elated him with pride, that he had the 
vanity to go into the state house,* mount the balcony 
or piazza, and shew himself in the front thereof, to the 
populace and people of distinction then walking on the 
public parade. Not long after this, cartels were fitted 
up, (at what government s expence I never heard) and 
the English officers, together with all the English 
prisoners who had been captured by our little squad 
ron, were embarked on board these cartels and sent to 
England: whether an equal number of American 
prisoners to the English were afterwards exchanged for 

*A very magnificent building. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

them I know not; but this much I know, that captain 
Jones assured us this was the case. The crews on board 
of our vessels at this time were so very sickly that we 
lost a number of men. We had now begun to repair 
the Serapis, and had employed a number of Dutch car 
penters, who, together with our own, were busily at 
work, when orders were received from Amsterdam 
from the commodore, who was still there, to Mr. Dale, 
to get out the jury masts, and that we should have sent 
us from that place the next day, three new masts to re 
place those on board our ship which had been lost. 
Accordingly, carpenters as well as sailors, were im 
mediately set to work in order to get ready for getting 
in the new masts that were expected. The next day 
counter orders arrived from the commodore, and the 
jury were again erected and rigged as before, and 
preparations were again likewise made for sailing at a 
moment s warning; in this business the crews of the 
different ships in our squadron assisted us. The next 
day fresh orders were received from headquarters, 
(Amsterdam) the purport of which was to unrig and 
get out the jury masts again, and make ready to receive 
the new masts. In fine, orders and counter orders were 
in like manner and form received on board of the 
Serapis every day for about ten days successively, which 
kept all hands constantly at work night and day; until 
at last we received our new masts alongside and got 
them in their places ; got our topmasts on end, our yards 
athw r art and rigged, provisions on board, and were once 
more ready for sea by the i6th of October; 1 when about 
ten o clock at night of the same, the commodore arrived 
on board from Amsterdam, and gave immediate orders 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. The date should be November. See log of Serapis. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

for all the officers and crew of the Serapis to evacuate 
her and repair on board of the frigate Alliance. These 
orders were executed with as much silence as possible, 
about midnight; and captain Cotteneau of the Pallais, 
with a set of officers and crew, occupied our places on 
board of the Serapis, and the next morning the French 
colours were displayed on board of her. A French cap 
tain and crew at the same time possessed the Countess 
of Scarborough. All this, it seems, was done by advices 
having been received from the French ambassador then 
at the Hague, and the American agent at Amsterdam. 
This was done to obstruct the evil intentions of the 
Dutch government, who were about to deliver these 
prizes into the hands of the English. From the re 
peated remonstrances made to the Dutch government, 
accompanied with threats by the English minister, on 
account of these two English ships of war, taken by his 
Britanic Majesty s rebellious subjects, it was fully 
known that the Dutch government had come to a deter 
mination to deliver the two prizes in question up to 
the English. This, as it appeared afterwards, came to 
the knowledge of the French Minister and the Ameri 
can agent; they sent orders to abandon the two English 
ships, and to place each under a French captain, offi 
cers and crew of the same nation. This manoeuvre 
completely out generated the English minister, and 
frustrated the designs of the Dutch government. 

The French minister now claimed both prizes, in the 
name of the French King, of the Dutch ; and stated at 
the same time, that they had been captured by his most 
Christian Majesty s subjects, and that if they delivered 
them up to the English, they must be sensible after such 
a breach of faith on their part, that he should immedi- 

C663 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

ately quit the Hague ( sans ceremonie ) and repair to 
the French court. The English fleet were still lying off 
the Texel bar to receive the Serapis and the Countess 
of Scarborough, as the English minister had acquainted 
the English commander, which was afterwards known 
by us from an intercepted letter to the English com 
mander, that the Dutch government had agreed to de 
liver them upon a certain day. Soon after this the two 
prize ships having taken advantage of the English 
squadron s absence from off the bar, they having been 
driven by a violent gale of wind some distance to the 
Northward of it, put to sea and arrived safe at 1 Orient, 
in France, together with the rest of the squadron, ex 
cepting the Alliance frigate. 

Jones having now the command of the Alliance, at 
this time had two sets of officers actually on board, be 
sides the remainder of the crew of the Good Man 
Richard, and her officers, and the officers which prop 
erly belonged to the Alliance made out the two sets. 
The whole number of officers and men now on board 
of that ship, including boys, amounted to four hundred 
and twenty-seven, nearly all Americans. We now 
thought ourselves able to take any 44 gun ship in the 
British navy, and captain Jones took much pains to 
impress this idea on the minds of his officers and crew. 

A journal was found on board of the Serapis, well 
written, and formerly kept by a midshipman who had 
belonged to that ship, and who was killed in the late 
action. It seems by this journal that the young man 
who had kept it had been in America, and was on 
board of one of lord Dunmore s vessels, which com 
mitted such ravages in the southern states, during our 
revolutionary war. I must confess that my blood was 

C67:] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

chilled, and my mind struck with horror, in perusing 
some of the pages of this journal. He vaunted the 
numerous exploits which he had performed in America 
against the rebels. It seems by his own story, that he 
had murdered numbers of decrepit old men and wo 
men! * * * * I had a mind at first to have this curious 
journal printed, to hold up to the view of my country 
men and countrywomen, a specimen of British human 
ity. But, reflecting that this young Englishman might 
have still living, an aged father and mother, and per 
haps sisters too; and that its publicity might wound 
their feelings; and, notwithstanding the enormities 
which this young man had been guilty of, his parents, 
sisters and brothers, might be possessed of all the ten 
der feelings of humanity. Besides, he might have been 
prompted to commit these horrid deeds by examples 
set him by his superior officers. And in addition there 
to, what finally urged me not to make his journal in 
detail public, was, conforming myself to the good old 
adage which says, we should never speak ill of the 
dead! 

We were now ready for sailing, but the British 
squadron before spoken of blockaded the entrance of 
the Texel, and we were obliged still to continue in our 
present situation. The Alliance was now unrigged, her 
yards and topmasts were got down by capt. Jones s 
orders; her tops were also got down upon deck, and the 
carpenters were directed to make new ones, and to make 
them large so as to hold more men, as Jones had, it 
seems, a great opinion since the late battle, of having 

*The sentences here omitted are too grossly written for reproduc 
tion here. 

C68] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

always several men stationed in the tops of a ship of 
war. Our main and fore yards were at the same time 
reduced in bigness, as well as in length; before this, 
those yards were nearly as large and as square as an 
English 74 s. 1 

Two of our midshipmen, Choram and Morant, ex 
pressed their wishes to captain Jones to leave the ser 
vice; and as they had while with him, been only vol 
unteers on board, captain Jones consented, and gave 
each a certificate, and one was also given at the same 
time to myself and the other midshipmen, six in num 
ber* who had served with him in the late cruise, 
couched in substance as follows: 

To the honourable the President of Congress of the 
United States of America. 

These certify, that the bearer having served under 
my command in the capacity of midshipman on board 
of the Good Man Richard, a ship of war belonging to 
the United States, until she was lost in the action with 
the Serapis, an English ship of war of superior force; 
and since on board of the last mentioned ship and Alli 
ance frigate, his bravery and good conduct on board of 
the first mentioned ship and while he has been in the 
service, will, I hope, recommend him to the notice of 
Congress, and his country, and believing as I do, that 

*The names of the Midshipmen of the Bon Homme Richard as 
per muster roll in the Log Book, were Reuben Chase Benj. 
Stubbs, Thos. Potter Beaumont Groube John Meyrant John 
Leinthweith William Daniel Richard Choram and Nathaniel 
Fanning. 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. See log entries. 

on 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

he will in a higher station, make a meritorious and de 
serving sea officer, I subscribe myself to these presents. 

(Signed) J. P. JONES. 

Done on board of the United 
States frigate Alliance this loth day 
of December, I77Q. 1 

It must be here acknowledged that capt. Jones treated 
his midshipmen with a good deal of respect in some 
particulars, and in others with a degree of severity. I 
will mention instances of both, and leave the reader to 
judge whether my assertions are correct. It was a con 
stant practise with captain Jones every day, to invite 
two midshipmen to dine with him; there were six of 
us in all, four of whom were rated upon the ship s 
books, the other two were only active* midshipmen, 
and these received no pay for their services. When we 
went to dine with him we were obliged to appear in 
the great cabin, with our best clothes on, otherwise we 
were sure not to meet with a favourable reception from 
him. He almost always conversed with his midship 
men as freely as he did with his lieutenants, sailing- 
master or purser; but he made us do our duty. When 
at sea, he would always, I mean in the day time, have 
one midshipman aloft to look out, either upon the main 
top gallant yard or main top gallant cross trees, or upon 
the fore top gallant yard or fore top gallant cross trees. 
And it sometimes happened that when one sat upon the 
topgallant yard, and Jones thought he was not so atten- 

* Acting. 



1 NOTE BY EDITOR. It is plain that Fanning states this from memory, 
not from his own certificate. 

[70] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

tive as he ought to be in looking out, he would himself 
let go the topgallant haulyards, and the poor midship 
man would come down by the run until the lifts of the 
yard brought him up of a sudden, and he would, you 
may be sure, feel himself happy, if he did not by the 
shock get severely hurt, I had almost said unmercifully. 
Another piece of duty which he required of his mid 
shipmen, and that was that whenever all hands were 
called to reef the topsails, or to shake the reef out of 
them, one midshipman was obliged to be at each yard 
arm to pass the earings. And whenever this happened, 
that all hands were called to reef or let reefs out of the 
topsails, especially when perhaps it might arrive when 
the greater number of us were asleep in our berths. It 
was quite laughable to see at such a time, what a scram 
bling there would be with the poor midshipmen; some 
would mount aloft without any thing on but their shirt, 
and perhaps a thin pair of drawers, all with a view of 
getting upon the weather yard arms. I have myself 
many a time mounted aloft in this plight. Thus much 
I presume will suffice for this class of Jones s officers. 
The Dutch had lying at anchor in the Texel at this 
time one 64, on board of which was hoisted the Dutch 
admiral s flag, several ^o s and frigates. On the morn 
ing of the i yth of December, the Dutch admiral sent 
his barge on board of us with an officer, who told cap 
tain Jones that the admiral had no orders to counte 
nance the American flag, and I am commanded by him, 
says he, to tell you that you must immediately get under 
way and stand off to sea, unless you wish to incur the 
admiral s highest displeasure. Captain Jones heard 
this message delivered without appearing to be of 
fended, and dismissed the officer after having treated 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

him in a very polite manner, telling him to acquaint 
the admiral that as soon as the wind was fair, his in 
tentions were to go to sea. At this time the Alliance 
was the only American ship in the Texel which wore 
the thirteen stripes. 

The English squadron were still cruising in the 
offing, and were in sight of us almost every day. Not 
withstanding this Jones did not like to be thus shut up 
in port; the active and enterprising genius that pos 
sessed his breast could not brook this. Besides, the 
Dutch admiral tormented him with insolent messages. 
And at length it became customary for him to send his 
barge every day with a Dutch officer in her to command 
us to depart; sometimes this order came accompanied 
with threats, and at other times with fair words. This 
farce continued for several days, during which time 
the wind remained contrary. At last Jones became 
weary of being thus used, and he in a very passionate 
manner, sent word to the Dutch admiral that he did 
not like to be imposed upon; and that although he (the 
admiral) had the honour of commanding a 64 gun 
ship, yet if he was at sea with the Alliance, the admiral 
would not dare to insult him there, in such an abusive 
manner as he had here done. After this the Admiral 
sent his barge no more on board of us, till the day on 
which we sailed from the Texel ; at which time he sent 
his boats to assist us in getting under way, and in work 
ing out over the bar. This took place the 28th day of 
December, about ten in the morning, and at meridian 
we had got pretty clear of the bar, when we descried 
two ships in the offing standing directly for us. We 
soon discovered them to be two ships of war, and they 
approached us nearly within gun shot, then tacked, 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

hoisted English colours, and stood from us.* At the 
same time all hands were at quarters on board of our 
ships and my station was in the maintop as before. It 
is my opinion, that if these two English ships of war 
had now engaged us, we should have given them 
yankee play; and the night of the 2ad of September 
would have been acted over again. However, it evi 
dently appeared by their manoeuvering that they were 
afraid of us. We did not alter our course, the wind 
being fair for the Straits of Dover or English channel, 
to which place we shaped our course. The two English 
ships of war kept in sight of us, and we were called to 
quarters several times during the night past. They 
kept on dogging us; sometimes they would shorten sail 
and drop astern of us, and sometimes they would make 
sail as though it was their intention to come alongside 
of us and give us battle. And as soon as they saw we 
were prepared to receive them, they would sheer off 
and keep out of gun shot. On the ist day of January, 
1780, we were a breast of Goodwin Sands, and saw 
several English men of war lying within them. Our 
thirteen stripes now floated over our stern, and we had 
a long streaming pendant aloft, and an American Jack 
set forward. I believe those John Englishmen who 
now saw us thought we were pretty saucy fellows, and 
they were perhaps the first American colours some of 
them had ever seen. 

At 2 P.M. the two frigates which had dogged us from 
the Texel bar came very near us, and by their ma 
noeuvering appeared to be making preparations to en- 

*We learned afterwards that one of these ships was a 28 and the 
other a 32 gun frigate, sent express from England to relieve the Eng 
lish squadron off the Texel, and to take us. 

C731 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

gage us ; however, as soon as they had come within long 
gun shot (for captain Jones had directed those who had 
charge of our great guns not to fire upon the enemy, 
until they were within pistol shot,) they immediately 
tacked ship and stood from us a great distance. After 
which they tacked ship and stood for us again for some 
time. We now sailed very quietly along the English 
shore, it being upon our starboard hand about two 
leagues, with a fine leading breeze at about N.E. with 
American colours waving in the air and nearly all sail 
set, and appeared, to be sure, to bid defiance to old 
England and her wooden walls. The yankees had now 
spirit and resolution enough to batter some of them to 
pieces if they would but give us a fair trial. We had 
by this time got abreast of the east end of the Isle of 
Wight, and could plainly see the English fleet of men 
of war lying at anchor at Spithead. The two frigates 
which had threatened to give us battle so often now 
appeared to be resolved to have it realized. Accord 
ingly, the largest ship who appeared to be the com 
modore s, hoisted his broad pendant, by way of giving 
us a challenge, and made several signals which we 
could not understand, and both ships hauled up their 
courses, handed their topgallant sails, and appeared to 
be slinging their yards: this now looked like coming 
to the point in good earnest. On board of our ship we 
were ready and in high spirits, and every officer, man 
and boy, to his station. We had shortened sail for the 
enemy to come up to us, as we had done all along when 
we thought they wished to come alongside of us. The 
enemy had now got within musket shot of us, and we 
expected the action would commence in one or two 
minutes more no such thing took place. The enemy, 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

as we supposed, frightened at our formidable and war 
like appearance, all at once dropped their courses, got 
on board their fore and main tacks and trimmed their 
sails by the wind, took to their heels and ran away. We 
made sail after the cowards, and was fast gaining on 
them, when we found we were chased in our turn by 
an English ship of the line which had slipped her 
cables at Spithead on perceiving that we were an 
enemy. We could now comprehend what the largest 
of the two English frigates made those signals for, 
which I made mention of ; it was no less than acknow 
ledging that they were not a match for one American 
frigate, but that they were pretty well assured they 
would be able to capture us with the assistance of one 
of their line of battle ships. 

After this circumstance comes to be made public, I 
hope we shall hear no more braggadocio boastings 
from Englishmen : such as that of one Englishman 
being able to beat two Yankees, or that one frigate of 
36 guns, officered and manned with full-blooded Eng 
lishmen was able and could with ease capture two 
American frigates in consort, each of 36 guns, and offi 
cered and manned with full-blooded Yankees.* These, 
and the like expressions were quite frequent with them 
when I was a prisoner among them, both at sea and on 
shore. The English ship of the line by this time find 
ing we outsailed her took in her steering sails and 
hauled upon a wind towards the English shore, and we 

*I often hear Englishmen make such kind of bombastic expressions 
in the United States, who on my merely mentioning in their hearing 
the battle between the Good Man Richard and the Serapis will shut 
their mouths and walk off humming for some time to themselves as 
though they did not hear me. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

soon lost sight of her. We cruised several days between 
Ushant and the lands end of England, during which 
time we met with nothing but neutral ships and small 
vessels. We afterwards shaped our course and steered 
for Cape Finester. 

There is one circumstance which I had forgot to 
mention which is this: During our cruise in the Good 
Man Richard we had captured several prizes, in con 
sequence of which captain Jones s officers and crew, 
while we lay at the Texel, thought they had a right to 
some small advance of money on account of their prize 
money; particularly the first, who had lost all their 
clothes in the late action. Captain Jones was petitioned 
on this account by both officers and men repeatedly, as 
their wants had become very urgent on account of the 
severe cold weather; and it appeared to us all to be 
cruel to oblige us to go to sea in our then almost naked 
situation. Jones made fair promises from time to time ; 
and at length a few days before we sailed from the 
Texel we were informed that there was a large sum of 
money sent on board of our ship from the American 
agent at Amsterdam; and that it was to be distributed 
among the officers, men and boys belonging to, or who 
did belong to the Good Man Richard, but when it 
came to be divided the officers received only about five 
ducats a piece, without having any regard to rank, and 
the sailors, marines, boys, &c. one ducat each (not far 
from half a guinea.) We were all very much disap 
pointed, but particularly the sailors, some of whom, as 
soon as they had received each a ducat, in a fit of rage, 
threw them as far as they could from the ship into the 
sea. Who was to blame I know not; neither do I know 
how much money was sent on board of our ship at this 

1:763 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

time. However, it was said, and believed by most of 
captain Jones s officers, that he had reserved the greater 
part of this money for himself. 

In a few days after this affair, shaping our course for 
Cape Finester we made the land and the third day after 
our arrival here we took two prizes laden with powder, 
lead, &c., which we manned and ordered them both to 
the United States. And after cruising here several 
days longer, being in want of water and fresh pro 
visions we put into Coronia, in Spain. While we lay 
here numbers of the Spaniards came on board to see us 
and our ship. Among them were some of the Spanish 
nobility, who, when they arrived on board, took much 
pains to let us know they were of that order by showing 
the officers as they came upon our quarter-deck their 
finger nails, which were remarkably long and clean; in 
consequence of which they expected a great deal of at 
tention paid to them while they remained on board. 
This port is a very remarkably good one for large 
ships; the harbour is large, and vessels may here ride 
at anchor with safety, it being entirely land-locked. It 
lies in Latitude 37.30 north, and in longitude 5.35 west. 

We lay at this place about a fortnight, got what pro 
visions and other necessaries which we stood in need 
of, and then captain Jones ordered the frigate to be got 
underway; but the sailors refused to assist and declared 
that they would not do their duty, nor go to sea again 
without first having received part of their wages then 
due, or some part of their prize money, which last they 
said ought to have been paid to them long since, as cap 
tain Jones had promised them before we left the Texel, 
upon his honour and credit that he would go direct 
from that place to 1 Orient in France, where they 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

should soon after our arrival have their prize money 
paid them; but contrary to his promise he had cruised 
several weeks at sea without attempting to get into that 
port. Jones now used every kind of persuasion to the 
sailors in order to get them willing to go to their duty, 
but all to no purpose. They remained inflexible, and 
appeared to adhere to their determination of not going 
to sea again without money. He then urged his offi 
cers to try their endeavours to prevail upon the sailors 
to do their duty; who at length succeeded by fair prom 
ises, &c. with a part of them to get the ship under way. 
Jones here declared again in the presence of his officers 
and crew, and pledged his word and honour, that as 
soon as his ship was clear of the land, she should make 
the best of her way to 1 Orient, the wind being favoura 
ble to steer for that port, where he said he wished to 
arrive as soon as possible. The ship had now got un 
der way and stood out for sea. We had got but a few 
miles from the land before Jones had his officers con 
vened in the great cabin, where after a short and per 
tinent harangue, he told them his intentions were to 
cruise at sea about twenty days before he should pro 
ceed to 1 Orient; and says he, with a kind of contemptu 
ous smile, which he was much addicted to: Gentle 
men, you cannot conceive what an additional honour 
it will be to us all, if in cruising a few days we should 
have the good luck to fall in with an English frigate of 
our force, and carry her in with us; and added this 
would crown our former victories, and our names, in 
consequence thereof would be handed down to the latest 
posterity, by some faithful historian of our country. * 

* Jones had a wonderful notion of his name being handed down to 
posterity. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

We told him we had no objections to cruising a few 
days longer, had we but clothes to shift ourselves, as he 
well knew that we had lost all our wearing apparel in 
the late action excepting what we then had on; that it 
was the winter season and that he must be sensible we 
were not in a situation to remain upon deck and do our 
duty. In fine, we assured him (all being agreed,) that 
in our present disagreeable circumstances we could not 
think of cruising any longer; and one of captain Jones s 
lieutenants added, that his crew were then in a state 
bordering upon mutiny, and that in his belief we should 
hazard our own lives by such a procedure.* 1 Well 
then, says Jones, I mean to cruise as long as I please. 
I do not want your advice, neither did I send for you 
to comply with your denial, but only by way of paying 
you a compliment which is more than you deserve, by 
your opposition. Therefore you know my mind. Go to 
your duty, each one of you, and let me hear no more 
grumbling. He said this in a rage, and with a stamp 
of the foot, and bade us get out of his sight. We obeyed 
these absolute commands, and the Alliance continued 
to cruise seventeen days longer, during which time we 
saw an English frigate, and came so near her that we 
saw plainly she was a 32 gun ship, but our crew swore 
they would not fight, although if we had been united 
we might have taken her with a great deal of ease. This 
being known to captain Jones, our courses were 
dropped, and we in our turn ran from her, and made 
all the sail we could, by his orders. All this time he 

*Our crew at this time were certainly ripe for a revolt. 



1 NOTE BY EDITOR. There are a number of instances of similar re 
volts or mutinies on the Continental ships for similar reasons. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

appeared much agitated, and bit his lips often, and 
walked the quarter-deck muttering something to him 
self. Night set in, and we lost sight of the frigate who 
was in chase of us. Three days after, we arrived safe 
in the port of 1 Orient, came to anchor and moored 
ship. Here we found the Serapis with several of our 
other prizes; this was in February. Soon after we had 
orders from the American minister at Paris, to get the 
Alliance ready for sea again with all possible dispatch 
in order to carry the public dispatches (or mail) to 
America. 

During the last cruise in the Alliance captain Jones s 
officers who had belonged to the Good Man Richard, 

and captain L V officers often had high words and 

squabbles with each other in the ward-room; (as I be 
fore observed we had two sets of officers on board of 
the Alliance.) Their quarrels were so frequent that 
they would sometimes challenge one another, all on ac 
count of the cowardice of captain L during the late 

battle. His officers, or those who had served under 

him, maintained that L was as brave a man and 

had been as often proved as captain Jones. The officers 
of the latter as strenuously maintained quite the reverse 
of this; so that our ward-room during the last cruise 
exhibited nothing but wrangling, jangling and a scene 
of discord among our superior officers. 

We that had belonged to the Good Man Richard 
until she was lost, now applied to a Mr. Moylan, the 
American agent here, and who appeared to be the agent 
in fitting her out from this port prior to her last cruise. 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. It is somewhat curious that whenever Fanning 

has occasion to mention Captain Landais, he uses only the initial L . 

Tn the journals he is called "Landy." 



TANNING S NARRATIVE 

I say, we made application to him for our prize money, 
who declared to us that he had nothing to do with our 
prize money, and that we must apply to the board of 
war in America for it. In consequence of this, a num 
ber of Americans became beggars in a foreign country, 
especially such as had lost their legs and arms in fight 
ing gloriously under the banners of America. Applica 
tion was sometime afterwards made to the board of 
war in Philadelphia by several who were interested 
in this business. When the honourable board declared 
that the Good Man Richard was not originally fitted 
out by order of Congress* or any of their ministers, but 
gave it as their opinion that she was a French privateer. 
And we were never able to learn after this whether that 
ship belonged to the French or Americans; but this we 
knew at the time, that we had fought on board of the 
Good Man Richard under American colours, and that 
our prizes were sold in France, and the monies arising 
from such sales has since been collected, the greater 
part of which is in the hands of Monsieur Chaumont, 
who lives in the city of Paris. 

Great alterations were now made by the carpenters 
on board of the Alliance frigate in almost every part of 
the ship, which put the United States to a vast and un 
necessary expense. However, Jones was now so well 
suited with the command of her that he would have 
every thing done and altered to please his fancy on 
board of her; not I presume, regarding what it cost, 
only as a secondary consideration. The Alliance was 
however ready for sea by the middle of June, 1780, and 
only waited for a wind to proceed for America. 

*A11 the dispatches which Jones wrote at the time he commanded 
that ship were directed to the president of Congress. This is a fact. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

About this time we heard that captain L , who 

had commanded this ship had arrived in 1 Orient, but 
it seems he went about that place incog. He soon not 
withstanding this, came publicly forward upon the 
stage and acted the part of a leading character as fol 
lows: one day, (I think it was the 23d of June) at 2 
o clock in the afternoon, captain Jones s officers (who 
were not then on shore) were below at dinner, and cap 
tain Jones had gone on shore to dine with the com 
mandant of that place. L s officers at this time 

were nearly all upon the quarter-deck (being no doubt 
in the plot) of which the first knowledge we (who 
were below) had of it, we heard above three loud 
huzzas. Such a sudden manoeuver surprised us, and 
we got upon the quarter-deck as soon as our legs could 

carry us. Here L was walking fore and aft with 

a paper in his hand, and the yards were manned. He 
immediately gave orders to Mr. Diggs, formerly first 
lieutenant to him, to cause all captain Jones s officers to 
come upon the deck, as he had something to say to 
them. They were all mustered accordingly, and as 
soon as they made their appearance; he, holding his 
commission in his hand at the same time, addressed 
them in nearly the following words: Here you see, 
gentlemen, the commission that the Congress did give 
me (as he did not speak very good English) for this 
frigate, and you see I now command her; and that there 
is no man in France who has a right to take this com 
mission from me ; therefore, gentlemen, all you who do 
not acknowledge me to be captain of this ship you must 
directly to the shore go, taking along with you your 
baggage and every thing which belongs to you. Ac 
cordingly, there was no other alternative left us but to 

[82] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

obey these orders ; so that all the officers who had served 
on board of the Good Man Richard under capt. Jones 
were forced to leave the Alliance, excepting one or two 
who chose to remain on board. However, L - for 
bid any of the crew quitting her. The Alliance in about 
three quarters of an hour after this, with the assistance 
of part of the crews of several men of war then lying 
in the harbour, unmoored her, made sail, passed the 
citadel without molestation, and came to anchor under 
the Isle of Groix, without gun shot of any of the French 
fortifications. Jones being on shore when this singular 
manoeuver took place, and not hearing any thing of it 
till the Alliance was safe at anchor, as I just observed. 
Never, I am confident, was a man so dreadfully en 
raged. His passion knew no bounds; and in the first 
paroxysm of his rage he acted more like a mad man 
than a conqueror. However, as he now saw that he was 

out-generaled by L his sworn enemy, he at length 

became more calm. The French commandant, at whose 
table he was sitting when he heard this news, offered 
him all the assistance in his power, and he appeared to 
entertain some hopes of getting the Alliance again into 
his possession. For this purpose he obtained leave of 
the commandant and French general, to possess himself 
of a row galley then lying at the key, and which 
mounted 2 eighteen pounders forward and one abaft, 
rowed with sixteen oars, and was rigged with latine 
sails. He was also furnished for this expedition with 
about three hundred (if I am not mistaken) French 
troops, who were partly embarked on board of the row 
galley, and the rest on board of boats. Jones flattered 
himself that this force was able to take the Alliance; 
and besides, he did not much expect that captain L , 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

nor his officers and crew, would make any resistance. 
He required all his old officers who had served under 
him, to join and lend their assistance in this Don 
Quixote undertaking; but they all declined having 
anything to do with or acting in this affair, excepting 
one of his lieutenants, who had the honour of com 
manding this expedition. He (Jones) very prudently 
declined embarking, which in my opinion he ought to 
have done. In that case I have no doubt that all his 
officers would have resigned their lives with him. 
Everything being in readiness, the little squadron 
moved out of the harbour wearing American and 
French colours, and proceeded on towards the Isle of 
Groix, where the Alliance was at anchor. The captain 
of which* sent a flag with a message to the commander 
of the expedition the purport of which was that If they 
came within the reach of his cannon he would sink 
them. ** The little fleet then lay upon their oars a few 
minutes, after which they turned tail and returned back 
into port no wiser than when they set out upon this 
wonderful expedition. Jones, upon seeing them return 
without taking the Alliance, was so enraged that he 
could hardly contain himself for some time. He swore 
bitterly he stamped he cursed, and grew almost 
frantic with rage. Three French ships of the line were 
lying in the harbour at this time, and Jones, with the 
help of the commandant, endeavoured to prevail with 
the French admiral to send out one or two of those 
ships, (which had their sails bent and were ready for 
sailing,) in order to force the Alliance to return back 
to port. But the admiral refused, and told captain 

*L had been apprized of their coming to take them, and was 

prepared to give them a warm reception, all hands being at quarters. 
**They were then about a mile from the Alliance. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

Jones that he should not interfere in the quarrel be 
tween him and captain L . Besides, he assured 

Captain Jones that it was more than his commission was 
worth, taking his head into the bargain, for him to 
order the departure of either of the ships under his 
command; more especially on such a piece of service 
as that was, which captain Jones wished her to be sent 
upon. The fact was, this same French admiral was at 

the very time as deep in the mud as L was in the 

mire; and so was the commander of the citadel, com 
monly called Fort Lewis, or Louis. L had been 

to this last place sundry times, as well as on board of 
the French admiral, where the plot or conspiracy was 
first agitated, of taking the Alliance out of Jones s 
hands, and where it was brought to maturity, and suc 
ceeded as I have related. 

In a day or two after this transaction Mr. Lee,* with 
the public mail, were embarked on board of the frigate 
Alliance, and she set sail for America. And on her 
passage thither the Captain and first lieutenant were 
confined to their cabins by the other officers belonging 
to her, because they had refused to fight an English 32 
gun frigate, who it seems had at sundry times offered 

them battle. Arriving in Boston, captain L and his 

officers (I believe the first lieutenant and sailing mas 
ter) were tried by a Court composed of navy officers 
in the United States service, were broke, and sentenced 
never to serve, or be capable of serving in the navy 
again in the character of officers.** 

*Came from Paris, and who I believe had been an American am 
bassador to some one of the foreign courts. 

**I do not assert this as fact, otherwise than having afterwards 
read such a paragraph in France in one of the newspapers, printed 
in Boston in the United States, and which I pointed out to Mr. 
L s third lieutenant. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

Capt. Jones was now left to wander about without a 
ship to set his foot on board of. He took a trip to Paris 
to try his luck, and to spend our money then in the 
hands of Mr. Chaumont. While there he was very 
much carressed by the king and queen. The former 
made him a present of an elegant gold hilted sword set 
in diamonds, valued at about one hundred guineas, on 
account of his bravery on board of the Good Man 
Richard. And the queen, while he was at Paris, at the 
performance of a play at one of the theatres, invited 
him to sit with her in her own box, and at the same 
time made him a present of an elegant nose-gay. These 
circumstances gave great umbrage to the king s officers 
who belonged to his navy, and who were then at Paris, 
in his service. 

About the middle of July, 1 captain Jones returned 
from Paris to 1 Orient, and made interest to get the 
command of a ship of war called the Ariel. She was 
rated a 20 gun ship, although she mounted 24 guns, six 
and nine pounders, and which ship had lately been 
captured by the French from the English. She then 
lay in dock, and carpenters as well as seamen were or 
dered to go to work upon her in order to get her ready 
for sea with all possible despatch. Jones s influence 
was so great, and the people here carressed him in such 
a manner, that he was called king of Brittany. 1 Orient 
is in this province, known in French by the name of 
La province de Britagne. His power over the gen 
eral and commandant especially was astonishing, and 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. The Ariel was captured by Captain Perouse of 
the French navy, the Pacific Ocean explorer. By the log of the Ariel 
she was placed under Jones s command in June. Fanning must have 
been in error in regard to the month. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

in consequence thereof the inhabitants of 1 Orient 
thought he deserved that title. 

On the jth of October, 1780, we set sail from this 
port for the United States in the Ariel, at about 6 P.M. 
and at the time we had under our convoy fourteen sail 
of American vessels, among which were three letters of 
marque, with the wind blowing a leading gale, at 
E.S.E. At 10 P.M. the wind shifted suddenly into the 
W.S.W. and blew a heavy gale took in top gallant 
sails, and close reefed our courses, and we carried them 
as long as the ship would bear them. The night was 
very dark, and we lost sight of the fleet. We were 
obliged to carry some sail in order to weather the Pin 
Marks, 1 a long range of sunken rocks about a league 
from the land, and which we judged to be to leeward 
of us. At midnight we were obliged to hand our 
courses, as it blew so violent that we could not suffer a 
single yard of canvass. The ship at the same time lay 
in a very dangerous situation, nearly upon her beam 
ends, and in the trough of the sea, and leaked so bad 
that with both chain pumps constantly going we could 
not keep her free. Some French soldiers which we had 
on board, and who were stationed at the cranks of the 
pumps, let go of them, crossed themselves and went to 
prayers. They were driven from this by the officers to 
the cranks again ; and it became necessary to keep lifted 
naked hangers over their heads, and threaten them 
with instant death if they quit their duty, or if they did 
not work with all their strength; without this, they 
would again leave off and go to prayers. Soon after, 
one of our chain pumps got choked in such a manner 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. Penmarque. 

[87] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

that it would deliver no water. Jones in all this time 
shewed a great deal of presence of mind, and kept, with 
his own hands, sounding with the deep sea lead; and 
at last finding that we were shoaling water very fast, 
and that we should in a short time be upon the Pin 
Marks, without something was soon done to prevent 
it. In this extremity a consultation of captain Jones 
and his principal officers was had upon the quarter 
deck, and the result was, that orders were given for cut 
ting away our fore-mast, and letting go the sheet 
anchor; and the latter was executed without loss of 
time. We sounded now in thirty five fathoms of water. 
The sheet cable was now paid out to the bitter end : but 
she did not look to her anchor; and her cable was 
spliced to the first, and paid out to the bitter end; 
she did not yet bring up ; the third cable was also 
spliced to the end of the second ; when after paying out 
about seven eighths of this last, and the fore-mast cut 
away at the same time, and when it had fell overboard 
to the leeward, the ship brought to and rid head to 
the wind and the sea now run mountains high.* By 
the time of which I am now speaking we had not less 
than three hundred fathoms of cable paid out in a 
few minutes after the ship brought to to her anchor. 
The ship laboured so hard, rolled so deep, and would 
bring up so sudden, that it sprung our main mast, just 
below our gun-deck, and as this was now in the greatest 
danger of being ripped up, orders were given to cut 
away the main-mast above the quarter-deck, which 
was immediately carried into execution; and when this 
fell over the side to leeward, it forced off the head of 
the mizzen-mast. By this time we had freed the ship 

*This was the Bay of Biscay. 

TO 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

of water, but when her masts were gone her motion 
was so quick and violent, that the most expert seamen 
on board could not stand upon their legs, neither upon 
the quarter-deck nor fore-castle without holding on 
to something. The chain pump which had been choked 
was cleaned, and notwithstanding the gale kept increas 
ing, yet our anchor and cables held on so well, that 
some faint hopes were now entertained that our lives 
would be spared: however the gale did not abate much 
until the morning of the 9th. At meridian of this day 
the wind had abated so much that we began to erect 
and rig our jury masts. At 4 P.M. we had them erected 
and rigged, and what spars and sails we could muster 
upon them; and there being at this time but a moderate 
breeze at about W.N.W., a fair wind for 1 Orient and 
the sea tolerable smooth, we hove in upon our cable till 
it was short apeak, and then exerted ourselves every 
way which we could think of in order to purchase our 
anchor, and after trying a long time without being able 
to weigh it, orders were given by captain Jones to save 
all we could of the cable and then cut it away, which 
was done and we made sail for TOrient where we soon 
after arrived and came to anchor. Many of our friends 
now came on board to see us and appeared to be re 
joiced at our safe escape, as they said they expected 
we were lost, as the gale was very violent and did a 
great deal of damage even in the harbour, among the 
shipping, and alongside of the keys. 

Before we last sailed from this Port in the Ariel, a 
number of American gentlemen came on board of us 
in order to take a passage with us for America. Some 
of them tarried on board with us with that view, and 
were with us in the late gale of wind, among whom was 

1:893 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

a young gentleman by the name of Sullivan, and who 
said he was a nephew of one of the American generals 
of that name. He had, it appeared, served some time 
in the quality of a lieutenant in Count Dillon s brigade 
in the French service, and the brigade was at this time 
stationed in garrison at Fort Louis, near 1 Orient. He 
brought on board when he first arrived from Paris, and 
which were shown to captain Jones s officers, several 
open letters of the best recommendations from some of 
the first characters in that city, to some of the first 
officers in the American army. Besides, he had one 
letter from doctor Franklin to captain Jones, in which 
the doctor desired Jones to take young Sullivan on 
board, treat him with kindness; and moreover, to give 
him his passage. Captain Jones s abusive treatment of 
this young man, who came on board with such unques 
tionable recommendations deserves a place in my jour 
nal. And as I was an eye witness to the whole of Jones 
conduct towards this young gentleman, I shall here 
proceed to relate nothing but stubborn facts; the reader 
will, nevertheless, be at perfect liberty whether to be 
lieve them or not. 

After the Ariel had returned to 1 Orient and had 
come to anchor, all the passengers got ready to go on 
shore, and had their trunks embarked on board of the 
boats, which lay ready alongside of the ship to receive 
them. Young Sullivan among the rest, had made a 
preparation to go on shore also; when captain Jones 
solicited him in a very polite manner, to tarry on board 
two or three days in order to have an eye to the marines, 
and see that they did their duty. In fine, to act as cap 
tain of marines, as the person who filled that station on 
board of our ship at that time was confined to a sick 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

bed. Telling him (Sullivan) that he would fare 
equally as well on board as on shore, it would be ex 
pensive living there which in remaining on board, he 
would save. To this request, made in such a plausible 
way, the young man in question consented, and told 
captain Jones that he would remain on board the time 
which captain Jones requested him, and after which 
he should take the liberty to go on shore when he 
pleased, until the ship was ready to sail for America. 
Jones replied, that he should have no objections to that, 
for as he was considered on board of his ship only as a 
passenger, and in that character he (Sullivan) had an 
undoubted right to go where and when he pleased. 
Four days after this conversation was held, the latter 
had a mind to go on shore, but Jones urged him to re 
main two or three days longer as the captain of the 
marines was not yet about. This was also assented to. 
After this time had expired, another request was made 
by Jones, for this young man to remain on board as 
much longer. And finally this kind of request was so 
often repeated that Sullivan lost all patience, and even 
command over himself, and told Jones in a manner 
somewhat harsh, that he had never been accustomed to 
such treatment, and not being under any obligation to 
him, he should take his baggage out of the ship, and go 
on shore in the very next boat which came alongside. 
What is that you say, you rascal, says Jones, drawing 
his sword out of the scabbard and rushed on to Sulli 
van, Not a word! I will run you through in an in 
stant! To this the latter very calmly replied, without 
appearing to be intimidated in the least, and without 
retiring back an inch, You are on board of your own 
ship, captain Jones, therefore I know the consequence 

C9O 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

of making at this time any resistance; but sir, remem 
ber what I have now the honour to say to you ; if I have 
the good luck to see you on shore, depend upon it, I will 
make you repent of this unheard of insult and cruelty. 1 
To this Jones made no reply but as he went over the 
ship s side to go on shore, he directed his first lieutenant 
to have him turned below among the ship s crew, and 
to order the master at arms to put the rascal in irons, 
hands and feet, which was executed without delay. 
Some few days after this Jones s officers ventured to 
solicit captain Jones, that Mr. Sullivan s hands might 
be liberated from irons, which he reluctantly con 
sented to. 

Some time after, the officers in Count Dillon s 
brigade heard of the ill treatment of their brother offi 
cer by captain Jones, and one of the colonels of that 
brigade came on board of our ship, to know if it was 
true, (having been intimately acquainted with Mr. S.) 
He mentioned to captain Jones as soon as he came on 
board, his business. But Jones, perhaps thinking that 
he had carried the ill usage of Mr. Sullivan rather 
farther than he was aware of, consequently he now im 
agined that a little dissimulation was become necessary, 
as he well knew that this colonel was a man of courage, 
and that if he found the treatment of young Sullivan 
as bad as he had heard it to be on shore, and among the 
officers of the brigade, he would give captain Jones a 
severe drubbing. He invited the colonel below into 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. There is on record in the log-book of the Serapis 
an instance of Jones losing his temper and personally chastising an offi 
cer. In this case it was no one less than Fanning himself, who, by drop 
ping one of the chronometers, so roused Jones s ire that he "kicked Mr. 
Fanning out of the cabin, across the main deck, and down the hatch 
way." This entry is in the handwriting of Beaumont Groube. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the great cabin, and after taking a glass or two of wine, 
he invited the colonel to remain on board and dine 
with him, which the latter consented to. In the mean 
time Jones and the colonel fell into a chat, and the 
colonel expressed a wish to see young Sullivan. This 
was a subject that Jones wanted to keep out of sight as 
much as possible; he therefore told the colonel that as 
to the story of Mr. Sullivan having been put in irons 
on board of his ship, or ever having been ill used, it 
was absolutely false. What is the reason then, that I 
have not seen him on shore since your ship returned 
back to this port? replied the colonel. Because, says 
Jones, he has been sick, and confined to his cabin since 
our return. Cannot I see him now? said the colonel. 
Presently, replied Jones, he is dressing himself, and I 
have ordered my servant to tell him to give his at 
tendance where we are, as soon as he is dressed. The 
colonel appeared satisfied, and they both entered into 
conversation, and when it began to flag, the colonel 
broached the subject of the battle between the Serapis 
and the Good Man Richard. This was the very point 
upon which Jones appeared to wish the colonel s atten 
tion drawn, as he could now dwell with pleasure upon 
it and spin it out till dinner was served up; and while 
this relation was going on, it would keep the colonel s 
business dormant. The latter being a great lover of 
good wine Jones now plyed him with it so frequent, 
that after an hour or t\vo s sitting the colonel went away 
with Jones half seas over, and I presume thought no 
more for that time of his friend Sullivan. A few days 
after, the latter being still confined in irons, Jones met 
the colonel on shore, who told him he believed what he 
had heard of Sullivan s being harshly treated, and of 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

his being in irons, and of captain Jones refusal to let 
him come on shore, therefore says the colonel, raising 
his voice that he might be heard by the bystanders: If 
you do not liberate him shortly, and give him leave to 
come on shore, I shall myself take the matter up and 
learn you better manners. This threat frightened Jones 
into submission, and he promised the colonel that the 
prisoner in question should be set at liberty. Accord 
ingly when he came on board, he directed his first lieu 
tenant to cause the young man to be taken out of irons, 
and to turn him forward and make him do duty as a 
common man. These directions Sullivan submitted to, 
and his baggage was ordered forward, where he was 
told he might, if they were willing, mess with the 
boatswain s mates. However, the midshipmen, un 
known to Jones, provided a comfortable lodging for 
him in one of the ship s staterooms, and allowed him 
to mess with them. 

The next time captain Jones met the colonel on shore, 
the latter threatened to run him through the body with 
his drawn sword, for not suffering Mr. S. to come on 
shore, as he had promised him. And now sir, (said the 
Colonel) I will wait here till you go on board of your 
ship and send him to me. I shall tarry here till you 
have had time to go on board and order him on shore 
and if this is not complied with instantly, you may re 
pent of it at your leisure. Jones promised it should be 
done; and therefore came on board, ordered me to have 
the jolly boat manned, and to take Sullivan and his 
baggage on shore. Previous however to his embarking 
his sword was broken in pieces by Jones s orders. He 
was set on shore near where the colonel was waiting 
for him and they met. The colonel and Sullivan then 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

walked away together, as I supposed, to consult upon 
measures which foreboded no good to Jones. The fact 
was there appeared to be a squall gathering, and it did 
not require a great deal of divination in any one who 
knew Sullivan s temper and courage, to predict on 
whose head it would fall. The first thing he did after 
landing was, to purchase a sword, and a good hickory 
cane. This done, he proceeded to Jones s private lodg 
ings, opened the door of the room where he was, (and 
as the French say sans ceremonie without any cere 
mony) and being unaccompanied with a second, he 
addressed himself to him in the following manner: 

Captain Jones you are sensible of your abusive and 
more than savage treatment of me while on board of 
your ship, and I presume you have not forgot that it 
was there that I promised to chastise you for it. I have 
now come to demand satisfaction of you. And, Sir, if 
you refuse to step aside with me at this time to settle the 
business in an honorable way, with our swords, I will 
here make you feel the weight of my cane. And at the 
same time he advanced near Jones and lifted it over 
his head where it remained suspended till the latter 
gave his answer. Jones was then sitting at a desk with 
his back towards his antagonist, and had been writing. 
The pen he put in his mouth, and there it remained 
while Mr. S. was speaking to him. He then laid it 
down and turning his head over his left shoulder, made 
this laconic reply. ( Sir, I do not put myself upon equal 
terms with every rascal who chuses to call me to an 
account when he thinks himself abused by me. No, 
Sir, I shall not fight you; therefore begone out of my 
room directly, or I will call the guard to take into their 
custody a madman or an assassin. These words were 

C951 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

no sooner out of Jones s mouth than Mr. Sullivan 
mauled him in a most shocking manner, until the for 
mer bawled out Murder! help! help! help! Mr. Sul 
livan kept repeating the blows till the blood ran pretty 
freely, and until he was nearly exhausted. He then 
left him to his own reflections. As soon as Jones had 
got the better of his fright, he went to the French com 
mandant, who was his particular friend, and lodged a 
complaint in form against Sullivan, but the latter had 
taken himself off. 

This business occasioned a great hue and cry through 
out the town. The officers of justice, the guards, the 
police, were now sent out in all directions, and had 
orders to search, or even to break open dwelling houses 
(and others) in order to secure Sullivan, so that he 
might be brought to condign punishment. Besides all 
these movements in town, a party of light horse were 
dispatched into the country with orders to scour the 
public roads, and to take the runaway and bring him 
back, dead or alive. And it is a notorious fact, that 
while all this bustle and noise was made in the town of 
TOrient on account of young Sullivan, he was as safe 
as a thief in a mill, at Fort Louis, about six miles off, at 
the entrance of the harbour, among the officers of the 
garrison. But had Sullivan been arrested his punish 
ment no doubt would have been severe. Most certainly 
the French laws then in force, subjected him to twelve 
years close imprisonment (if taken and tried) besides 
a heavy fine. Sullivan, therefore, having lived a long 
time among the French, (having been born in Ireland) 
and knowing the punishment which awaited him, acted 
very wisely in making his escape, after first having 
satisfied his vengeance upon the head of the conqueror 

H96] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

of Captain Parsons. And upon the whole every cir 
cumstance considered relative to this affair (as it was 
made public) very few of the people in 1 Orient (and 
I like to have added, on board of his ship) were very 
sorry that Jones met with such a severe drubbing. And 
I am fully in the belief, in which I can venture to say 
I am not alone, that there was never any great search 
made for young Sullivan in and about the town by the 
officers of justice, nor by the guards as he had many 
friends in this place, and Jones s popularity was at this 
time on the wane among the French. However, the 
commandant and a few of the King s officers still re 
mained friendly to him; but it was probable they were 
so merely on the score of having instructions from the 
King to conduct themselves friendly towards captain 
Jones, and to render him every assistance which he 
asked of them, and which was in their power to give. 
It seems this was the general belief among the inhabi 
tants of 1 Orient at the time. Soon after the affair of 
Jones and Sullivan had a little subsided, the captain of 
marines caned him for ill usage in one of the streets of 
TOrient, in the presence of a number of inhabitants.* 
This was such a disgrace to him, and hurt his feelings 
so much, that he went on shore but seldom after this 
affray, excepting at night. The ship Ariel being now 
nearly ready for sea, several of the petty officers im 
portuned captain Jones for a trifle of prize money, 
stating that they were not then in a situation to go in 
the ship, and to do their duty upon a winter s coast 
without a supply of winter cloaths, and that they could 
not procure them without cash. An indifferent person 

*The ground of this quarrel originated from Jones having refused 
to accept a challenge which the captain of marines had sent him. 

C973 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

would, I presume, view such a demand on the part of 
these officers, as perfectly reasonable and consistent with 
justice. For this, however, captain Jones had several of 
them committed to prison in 1 Orient for their (as he 
expressed it) impertinence. 

About the tenth of December great preparations 
were made on board of our ship in consequence of a 
great number of people of the first character in 
1 Orient: one prince of the blood royal, and three 
French admirals, with some ladies of the first quality, 
having had cards of invitation sent them by captain 
Jones inviting them on board of his ship the next day 
to take dinner with him precisely at 3 o clock in the 
afternoon; and also informing the company that cap 
tain Jones would, in the evening of that day, on board 
of his ship exhibit to them a sham sea fight; and that 
it should in part represent his battle with the Serapis; 
particularly her tops. To go through with a minute 
detail of all and every circumstance that related to this 
scene would, I fear, tire the patience of the reader; I 
shall therefore be as concise as possible in my relation 
of this exhibition. 1 

First then, all the boats belonging to our ship were 
busily employed with their respective crews from the 
time the approaching scene was known on board 
(which was the day before it was to take place) at ten 
o clock in the morning till about twelve at night of the 
day on which the company were to dine, in passing to, 
and coming from the shore, bringing off from thence 
all the articles wanted. And the reader may rest as 
sured that neither cash nor pains were spared in order 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. This fete has been described in Mackenzie s life of 
Paul Jones, mainly drawn from Tanning s account of it. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

that the scene every way should appear magnificent. 
In a short time, our quarter-deck had the appearance 
of a lady of qualities drawing room. Overhead was 
suspended an elegant awning, the edgings of which 
were cut in scallops, and decorated with a variety of 
silk roses, tassils, &c. from a little below the awning: at 
the sides were hung thin canvass lined with pink 
coloured silk, and which fell down so as to reach the 
quarter-deck. These sides were hung with a great 
variety of French pictures and looking glasses; some of 
the first had been drawn by one of the most finished 
artists in France, and many of which were quite in 
decent, especially to meet the eyes of a virtuous woman. 
However in these days they were a part of French 
etiquette on such an occasion. The quarter-deck of our 
ship was covered with the most elegant carpet: the 
plate alone which was made use of on this singular 
occasion was estimated to be worth two thousand 
guineas. (For my own part I believe it might have 
been rated at double that sum.) French cooks and 
waiters or servants were brought from the shore to 
assist in this business, and for nearly twenty hours pre- 
ceeding the serving up of dinner, we were almost suf 
focated with garlick and onions, besides a great many 
other stinking vegetables. A French lady (who was 
said to be a great connosieur in the art of cookery, and 
in hanging and arranging pictures in a room where the 
first companies went to dine) was gallanted on board by 
captain Jones the evening before the day on which the 
company were to dine, and was by him directed to take 
upon herself the superentendance of the approaching 
feast. The next day was ushered in by thirteen guns, 
and the dressing of the ship with the thirteen stripes, 

1:993 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

and the colours of all nations who were friendly to the 
United States. Captain Jones and his officers were all 
dressed in uniform, with their best bib and band on, 
and we were directed by captain Jones to conduct our 
selves with propriety and to pay implicit obedience to 
my lady superintendent of the ceremonies. At a quar 
ter before 3 o clock in the afternoon the ship s boats 
(three in number, each having a midshipman who acted 
for this time as coxswain, and the men who rowed 
the boats were all neatly dressed in blew broad cloth, 
with the American and French cockades in their hats,) 
were despatched on shore to bring on board the com 
pany. Jones received them as they came up the ship s 
side, and conducted them to their seats on the quarter 
deck with a great deal of ease, politeness and good 
nature.* Dinner was served up at half past 3 P.M. 
The company did not rise from table till a little after 
the sun set, when captain Jones ordered his first lieu 
tenant to cause all hands to be called to quarters which 
was done just as the moon was rising. I of course 
mounted into the main top, which had always been my 
station as long as I had served under Jones, (of which 
and the men at quarters there, I had the command.) 
Orders were given before we mounted into the tops 
that we must be well supplied with ammunition, 
blunder busses, muskets, cowhorns, hand grenadoes, &c. 
the same as if we were now to engage with an enemy: 
and when the signal was given (which was to be a 
cannon fired upon the forecastle, and as soon as the gun 
was fired the sham fight was to commence.) At 8 

*The company was superbly dressed, and the prince was distin 
guished from the rest by a brilliant star which he wore upon his left 
breast. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

o clock it began, and lasted about an hour and a quie 
ter without any intermission. Such a cracking of greaf: 
guns swivels, small arms, cowhorns, blunder busses, &c. 
such a hissing and poping of hand grenadoes, stink 
pots, powder flasks, was now heard as they fell into the 
water alongside, as was never the like in the harbour 
of 1 Orient, seen or heard. Some of the ladies were 
much frightened and the sham fight would have con 
tinued longer had it not been that some of them in- 
treated captain Jones to command the firing to cease. 
The fight over, a band of music, which had been or 
dered on board by the commandant, and who had been 
paraded upon the fore part of the quarter-deck, now 
played their part, and all was glee and harmony. At 
about twelve at night the company took their leave of 
captain Jones, and the boats set them safe on shore, in 
the same order and regularity as they came on board, 
excepting a few who were landed half seas over; these 
the midshipmen assisted along to their lodgings, and 
returned on board to give an account to captain Jones 
that we saw all the company safe at their respective 
places of abode. For several days after this, nothing 
of any note was to be heard in conversation among the 
French at 1 Orient, in their coffee houses and private 
dwellings, but Captain Jones s feast and sham fight. 
Upon the whole, I believe it must have cost himself, as 
well as the United States, a vast sum of money. There 
was certainly a great quantity of powder burnt, and an 
abundance of wine, (Besides other liquors) drank. 
The cost of the whole of this entertainment, including 
the powder, amounted (by an estimate made by the 
American agent s first clerk, and who it seems paid the 
cash for sundry bills relative to this business, to 3,027 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

cfrfwns at 6s. 8d. each Massachusetts currency.) 
Whether captain Jones charged the whole or any part 
of the expense of this business to the United States I 
never learned. 

An order at this time arrived from Paris, signed by 
the American ambassador resident at that place, direct 
ing captain Jones to set the petty officers belonging to 
his ship, whom he had caused to be committed to 
prison, for asking him for prize money, at liberty, 
which was immediately done, and they were restored 
to their different stations on board the Ariel. The Ariel 
was now ready for sea, excepting that she wanted a 
number of seamen to complete her crew or complement 
of men. Captain Jones and his officers endeavored to 
ship men by keeping a rendezvous open on shore, but 
could not engage any. The former made this known 
to the commandant, and requested of him to give liberty 
to captain Jones to press a few hands. The former 
would not absolutely give him permission, but told him 
he should not interfere, provided he pressed none but 
Americans. However it was said that the commanding 
officer of the marine department granted Jones s re 
quest on that score. Accordingly, a number of Ameri 
can sailors belonging to several letters of marque then 
laying in the harbour, and who were found on shore, 
were forced on board of the Ariel and there obliged to 
do duty. In fine, captain Jones s conduct had been such 
for a long time past, that some of his officers and men 
were disgusted at it, and intended to leave him, and 
who before his last behavior in regard to the American 
seamen, were determined to go to America with him. 
I, for one, was among those who now quit him, and 
which I had an undoubted right so to do, never having 

102;] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

signed the ship s articles, and having obtained of cap 
tain Jones, a certificate for my prize money, &c. The 
Ariel set sail for America the second time, on or about 
the 1 5th of December 1780, having under convoy sev 
eral American vessels.* 

I remained in TOrient some days after the Ariel 
sailed, every day of which I was at Mr. Moylan s to 
get my wages and prize money; and after several fruit 
less applications, I obtained twenty eight crowns of 
him, in part for my wages on board the Good Man 
Richard, the Serapis, the Alliance and the Ariel which 
was but little more than enough to pay my board and 
lodging. I had by this time made a number of ac 
quaintances in 1 Orient, among them was a merchant 
by the name of Bellimont, who was interested in a 
privateer then fitting out at Morlaix; and he appeared 
to be anxious to have me proceed to that place and take 
upon me the command of her. However, I then de 
clined accepting his offer, as I had an expectation of 
commanding one from 1 Orient. 

*Out of the number which this ship had under her convoy for 
America, the first time she sailed from thence, only two were saved. 



(Having frequently had occasion to 
introduce John Paul Jones to the no 
tice of the reader, I presume it will 
not be unacceptable to present the 
following short sketch of the life and 
character of that enterprising, cele 
brated, and eccentric character.) 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 

OF THE 

LIFE AND CHARACTER 

OF 

JOHN PAUL JONES ESQ. 



JOHN PAUL JONES was born at Selkirk, in Scot 
land, the seat of the Count of that name, on the 23d 
of September 1747, as appeared from a written entry 
made in a book entitled The way to be happy in a 
miserable w r orld, (an old family book) and which was 
among capt. Jones s books at the time he commanded 
the Good Man Richard, and was lost with her.* This 
account of his birth agreed with the words of his own 
mouth, which I have heard him mention to several 
gentlemen repeatedly, as to that event. It seems also 
by his own story, that he never went to any regular 
school in his life, but that an old maiden aunt, who 
lived in his father s family when he was very young, 
learned him his letters and to read a little. His name 
was then John Paul,** and that he had arrived at the 
age of twenty two before he added that of Jones to it. 
This, it appears from some documents which I saw, 

*Part of the time while I belonged to that ship I officiated as his 
secretary, in copying his dispatches to Congress, his letters, etc. at 
which time he allowed me to have free access to his books. 

**This it seems was his fathers name who was the Count of Sel- 
kirks gardener. 

DOS 3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

was the sirname of his mother before she was married 
to his father. The learning he obtained afterwards, 
from the age of nine years, was from close application 
to books, of which he was remarkably fond; and his 
studies as he says himself, day and night, were inde 
fatigable. At the age of nine years, he, without taking 
leave of his family, left the paternal abode and set out 
to seek his fortunes, with no other clothes than what 
he had on his back, and no money. Soon after this, he 
arrived at Leith (the very same place that he was on 
the point of laying under a heavy contribution as I have 
before related) Here he engaged on board of an Eng 
lish ship as cabin boy, which ship was in the coal trade, 
commonly called by the English colliers. This busi 
ness he followed for a number of years. He was mate 
of a ship at 17 years of age, and a captain at 19. At 
the age of 24, he had the command of a large English 
ship employed between England and the West Indies. 
How many voyages he made in this trade I do not 
know; but this much appears to be true that during the 
last voyage which he made to the islands, his carpenter 
was drowned, and on the return of the ship which he 
commanded, at Hull, capt. Jones was arrested and 
committed to gaol by the officers of justice, as the mur 
derer of his carpenter, which was never proved upon 
him. But this much was sworn to by several of the 
ship s crew: that while the ship lay at anchor in the 
West Indies, the carpenter had been guilty of some mis 
demeanor, and that Jones undertook to have him pun 
ished in the following manner; he ordered an old 
broken pot to be placed upon the forecastle, and some 
powder was put into it; this done, he ordered the car 
penter to set upon it with his naked breech, and then 

1:106 1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

ordered the cook to set fire to the powder the explosion 
of which frightened him in such a manner, and perhaps 
hurt him a good deal too, so that he jumped overboard 
and was drowned. Jones however found means to 
make his escape from gaol and made the best of his 
way to the United States of America where he engaged 
on board of a continental ship of war in the capacity 
of a midshipman, either Hopkins or Whipple at that 
time commanded her, and he afterwards (with other 
vessels belonging to the United States) sailed on an 
expedition to New Providence. I once noted in one of 
his letters to the President of Congress, which I was 
copying, that he boasted that with his own hands he 
hoisted the first American flag that ever floated over 
the stern of a vessel of war belonging to the United 
States.* * * 

After Jones returned from New Providence with the 
American squadron, he was noticed by some of his 
superior officers, who procured him a commission and 
the command of a sloop of 12 guns in the service of 
the United States. After a cruise in this sloop was 
finished he was appointed and had a commission from 
Congress, to the command of a new ship of war called 
the Ranger, mounting 18 carriage guns, (six pounders) 
and whose officers and crew consisted of one hundred 
and fifty-eight in all. With this ship and crew he sailed 
from the United States for the coast of England, and 
cruised there some time: during which, and when off 
or near Whitehaven, he sent his boats and a party of 
men, commanded by his first lieutenant, on shore for 
the purpose of (as he confessed a long time afterwards 
in his famous letter to the Countess of Selkirk) mak 
ing her husband a prisoner, and of carrying him to 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

France. The lieutenant who commanded this party 
landed without opposition, and they proceeded to the 
seat of the Count of Selkirk, but not finding the Count 
at home (he was as we heard some time after at Lon 
don, being then a member of parliament,) they plun 
dered the house of all the silver plate and other valua 
ble articles and retreated back to their boats, and ar 
rived safe on board of their ship, and immediately 
made sail and stood from the land. When this trans 
action was known at Paris, it was disapproved by the 
French court, who remonstrated against the procedure 
to the American minister; in consequence of which, 
when the plate &c. was landed at Brest, he ordered the 
whole to be sent back in a cartel ship then in that har 
bour. This order it seems was strictly adhered to. 

But to return the next news heard of the Ranger, 
was at a time when she made her appearance off Water- 
ford (or the Lough of Belfast) in Ireland. And while 
in sight of that port several fish boats came along side, 
and the people belonging to one of them informed cap 
tain Jones that there was an English ship of war lying 
in that port; that she was a king s ship, but they could 
not tell how many men she carried. Captain Jones 
thought, without doubt, this a good opportunity for 
him to try his naval skill, and the courage of the ship s 
company, who were nearly all full-blooded yankees. 
Having this in view, he sent by one of these boats a 
written challenge to the captain of the sloop of war, 
called the Drake, mounting 22 carriage guns of the 
same caliber as those on board of the Ranger; mention 
ing to the English captain the force of his ship, &c, 
and that he should like to meet him where he then was, 
and exchange a few broad-sides with his majesty s ship 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the Drake. It is said this challenge was published in 
some of the English Gazettes ; that it was well written, 
and contained very polite language, and yet was 
couched in laconic terms. The English ship was got 
ready as soon as possible; and besides her own comple 
ment of men, a number of Irish noblemen and others, 
embarked on board of her. When all was in readiness, 
the English ship spread her canvas, and proceeded out 
to meet the little yankee ship. The inhabitants gave the 
English ship as she departed from the port three cheers, 
and wished the captain and his crew success. And I 
have little doubt but the prayers of thousands in and 
about Waterford accompanied these brave and daunt 
less English and Irishmen, that they might prove vic 
torious over these daring rebels, who had dared to in 
sult his majesty s liege subjects. The ships met and 
fought, and after about an hour and a quarter of severe 
conflict, the British ship yielded to the superior skill 
and bravery of the Americans, and down came the 
English flag.* When the two ships first met, those 
that were on board of the Ranger declared the English 
ship appeared nearly twice as large as the former, and 
that she had almost double the number of men, the vol 
unteers included. And they further declared, that the 
crew of the English ship during the action, made sev 
eral unsuccessful attempts to board the American ship. 
That before the battle commenced captain Jones took 
abundance of pains to instruct his top-men how to act. 
That he commanded his lieutenants who had the con 
trol of the great guns, to see that the guns were loaded 
with round, grape, and double-headed shot; and to be 

*This account of the action I copied from captain Jones s journal, 
written with his own hand. 

I! 109 3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

very particular to take good aim, and not to fire but one 
gun at a time; to be cool, deliberate, and not too hasty; 
and that with courage, steadiness and perseverance, 
they should, he made no doubt, give a good account of 
the English ship in a short time. On the contrary, the 
English ship was badly manoeuvered, fired her broad 
sides all at once, which occasioned her to heel very 
much from her antagonist, and by which means she re 
ceived many of the American shot between wind and 
water, which occasioned her to leak badly; and in some 
measure, it is said, shortened the action; during which, 
her crew appeared to be in great confusion, and the 
slaughter among these last was dreadful. She lost in 
the action about one hundred and five men killed, and 
about seventy-two wounded. Whereas on board of the 
American ship there were but about one dozen killed, 
and nine wounded. The Ranger, with her prize, soon 
after got safe into France. 

Some time after they had arrived captain Jones had 
some misunderstanding with his lieutenants and quit 
the Ranger. And whether he was removed from this 
ship by orders of the American minister residing in 
Paris, which was said to be the case, or left her of his 
own accord, I do not pretend to know. It is certain, he 
was after this appointed to the command of the Good 
Man Richard, the next ship which he commanded after 
he quit the Ranger. The reader has already seen how 
he behaved on board of this last mentioned ship in a 
few pages back. 

It was while he was on board of this ship that he 
wrote his famous letter 1 to the countess of Selkirk, and 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. If Fanning had never seen published copies of 
this famous letter, certainly his synopsis of it, drawn from memory only, 
is remarkable, and bears out his statement of having copied it as Jones s 
clerk. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

which by his direction I copied. I have ever since been 
sorry that I had not at the time preserved a copy of it, 
so that I might have been enabled to insert it here. It 
appeared some time after he wrote it in several of the 
English Gazettes, and was said by some of them to be 
well written, and discovered the author to be a man of 
genius, and one who was tolerably well versed in the 
English language. The letter, certainly displayed 
abundance of wit and humor. Jones mentions in it, 
that his object in landing a party of men from the 
Ranger was to take the Count, her husband, make a 
prisoner of him, carry him to France, and there detain 
him until the British government would consent to a 
general exchange of American prisoners then detained 
as such in England. The Count at that time was very 
much esteemed by the English, and captain Jones 
knowing this had no doubt but that if his project suc 
ceeded, the English ministry would be forced or drawn 
into it. 

He disavows in this letter having any knowledge of 
her house being plundered and stript of plate, and 
other valuable articles by his party, until after he ar 
rived in France some weeks after this transaction took 
place, and that the moment he became acquainted with 
it, he was one of the first to assent to its being carried 
back. He begged her ladyship s pardon for presuming 
to write to her, and also the trouble and pain the plun 
dering of her house must have caused her, and that he 
hoped she would not lay any thing of this pilfering 
business to his charge. 

In this same letter he mentions, in severe terms, the 
wickedness of the British ministry in waging a cruel 
war against the people of the United States, and con- 
dems them in the following lines : 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

Tor they, twas they unsheathed the ruthless blade 
And Heaven shall mark the havoc it has made! 



There was abundance of poetry in the letter, but this 
is all I can remember. He closes with saying, he hoped 
the Countess, after what had happened would not with 
draw her kind and friendly assistance, so long expe 
rienced, from his family, &c. 

I shall mention next his gallantry with the American 
agent s wife, at 1 Orient. I forbear here to mention the 
lady s name, for reasons which the reader may not care 
to hear. But, bye the bye, I must inform those who will 
take the trouble to peruse these pages that Captain 
Jones was a great lover of the ladies. 

But to the fact, which was this: one afternoon the 
American agent came on board of his ship to do some 
business with the purser of the ship. In the interim 
captain Jones gave his officers the hint, and told them to 
let no boat depart from the ship, nor any one come 
alongside during his absence, which was complied 
with. The agent began to be uneasy about 8 o clock in 
the evening and requested of the officer who had the 
watch upon deck to put him on shore. But he replied, 
that orders had been given to let no boat go on shore 
from the ship until captain Jones came off. The agent 
at this could not contain his jealous rage for some time. 

The truth is, he was a man of about sixty years of 
age very rude in his manners, I believe an Irishman by 
birth; and he was what people commonly call a homely 
man, but rich in the good things of this world. His 
present wife was only about seventeen years of age, very 
handsome, and a little given to coquetry. She was also 
vain, and fond of going to the play with almost any 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

gentleman who would be so polite as to offer her a 
ticket. The agent had been for some time jealous of 
Jones as he had more than once surprised him with his 
wife in a very loving position. The agent was detained 
on board all night, and the captain tarried the same 
time on shore with the lady in question. The officers 
on board of Jones s ship had plied the agent so well 
with wine, that he was quietly laid into a cabin in one 
of the state rooms as drunk as a beast. This piece of 
gallantry became soon after public in 1 Orient. 

At another time, Jones sailed on a short cruise, and 
carried off with him a married woman, who left behind 
two children and a French husband, who did not ap 
pear to regret the loss of his mate for a few weeks only. 

The Captain, after he arrived, sent the lady on shore 
who, it is said and believed, carried to her husband a 
small purse from the Captain as a present to him to 
console him for her absence. * * * 

Our gallant captain, while on a visit in the city of 
Paris, some time after the victory gained by him over 
the captain of the Serapis, was invited to dine with the 
Count de Vergennes, then minister at the French court 
for foreign affairs. And after dinner the company, 
consisting of noblemen, and others of the first families 
of that city, the conversation turned upon the good con 
duct and bravery of our captain in the late battle be 
tween the Good Man Richard and the Serapis. One 
of the company observed to captain Jones that his 
Britannic majesty had knighted captain Parsons, and 
asked him whether he would ever dare to meet him 
again, now he was a knight. To which Jones made this 
laconic reply: If I should ever have the good luck to 
meet him again at sea, with a ship under my command 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

of equal force to his, I will make a Lord of him. This 
pleased the company mightily. After which not a day 
passed while he remained at Paris, but he received 
cards of invitation to dine or sup with the first char 
acters in that city. 

While at 1 Orient one evening he had some business 
with a lady of pleasure; while the players at the theatre 
were performing, he retired the play house with the 
lady to a convenient place where he left his watch.* A 
few moments after, one of his midshipmen having a 
similar affair with another lady retired together to the 
same spot. Here the midshipman picked up the cap 
tain s watch and shewed it to me we both knew it. 
We then withdrew to the public parade near the play 
house, to consult what it was best to do with it. The re 
sult was, we agreed to carry it to a noted coffee house, 
where our Captain was well known, and there pawn it 
to the master of the house, for one dozen bottles of the 
best old Bordeaux wine. On our way thither, we met 
with two of our brother officers, to whom we told what 
we had concluded to do, and they very readily agreed 
to join us. 

Accordingly the watch was pawned for the wine and 
the reader may rest assured that we had a merry time 
of it, at our gallant captain s expense. 1 

This story when it became publicly known, oc- 

*A gold one worth about thirty guineas. 



1 NOTE BY EDITOR. The propriety of reprinting this scandalous yarn, 
or even referring to it, may be questioned. Many may say that it should 
have been omitted, as have other improprieties to be found in Fanning s 
narrative. Jones s private or personal character is well known and ex 
patiated upon by his biographers in general terms of reprobation, while 
the numerous chap-books are replete with charges of gross immoralities. 
These stories of Fanning s seem to be of the same character. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

casioned a deal of diversion, both to the people in the 
town as well as on board of our ship. The captain paid 
the master of the coffee house for the dozen of wine, 
and received his watch again, but I believe he never 
thereafter opened his lips to any person relative to the 
circumstances and manner of losing it. His crew, how 
ever, used to mention it sometimes, at the capstan bars 
when heaving the ship ahead. 

The English were in the habit of saying that captain 
Jones fought with a halter round his neck, in allusion 
to his having been imprisoned for murder, and that if 
he should fall into their hands, even as a prisoner of 
war, he would not be considered as such, but that he 
would be hanged immediately upon being taken. Also 
that Jones never did, nor never would fight, except he 
was nearly drunk. The English generally believing 
this to be the case with him, called him a pot-valiant 
fellow. Such mean, grovelling, and dastardly means 
used in order to undermine a man s well earned popu 
larity I despise. Many such like sarcasms were uttered 
by the brave English, against the great Washington. 

About three years after the battle between the Good 
Man Richard and the Serapis I was in London and in 
one of the print shops in that city I saw captain Jones s 
picture, and his name enrolled among the greatest 
pirates. In another print shop and at a coffee-house, 
in the same place, I saw what was said to be his like 
ness, nearly as large as life. He was represented with 
twelve pistols, six upon each side of him, secured in his 
girdle, and three men were represented before him in 
a kneeling posture. On the same picture one appeared 
to be shot dead, and falling at the feet of Jones, and he 
presenting a pistol in each hand to each of the other 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

two. This alluded to the three men who cried out for 
quarters in the late battle, and who belonged to the 
ship Good Man Richard, as I have made mention of in 
the preceding pages. 1 

As to the report of Jones s being pot-valiant, I de 
clare that it is absolutely false. Having lived part of 
the time while I sailed with him in his cabin, I have a 
right to know, and shall here declare that I never knew 
him to drink any kind of ardent spirits ; on the contrary, 
his constant drink was lemonade, lime juice and water, 
with a little sugar to make it the more palatable. It is 
true that every day while at sea and the weather good, 
he made it a custom to drink three glasses of wine, im 
mediately after the table cloth was removed. 

On the passage from 1 Orient to Philadelphia in the 
Ariel, somewhere not far from the Island of Bermuda 
he fell in with an English frigate of 32 guns, far su 
perior in force to the ship he commanded. It was 
toward night when the Englishman came up with him, 
as Jones had made sail from her, knowing her to be 
an over match for his little ship. They hailed the 
American ship, and asked what ship it was and who 
commanded her. Capt. Jones directed one of his offi 
cers to say that it was one of His Majesty s ships, known 
to Jones to be cruising on that station. * 



#2 



1 NOTE BY EDITOR. Both the prints, here fairly described, are well 
known and, although extremely scarce, are to be found in most collec 
tions. No one who served in the Revolution, except Washington, was 
so often represented by contemporary portrait and caricature as Paul 
Jones. 

2 NOTE BY EDITOR. Fanning here gives a long account of the Ariel s 
encounter with the British ship Triumph, which does not differ substan 
tially from the accounts by Jones, and to be found in all the published 
lives of Jones; but as Fanning was not present, and evidently obtained 
his information regarding it from Jones s own reports of the encounter, 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

Captain Jones was a man of about five feet six inches 
high, well shaped below his head and shoulders, rather 
round shouldered, with a visage fierce and warlike, and 
wore the appearance of great application to study, 
which he was fond of. 

He was an excellent seaman, and knew, according to 
my judgment, naval tactics as well as almost any man 
of his age : but it must be allowed that his character was 
somewhat tinctured with bad qualities. 

His behavior and conduct relative to the treatment 
of young Sullivan was condemnable in a high degree, 
but at the same time his courage and bravery as a 
Naval commander cannot be doubted. 

His smoothness of tongue, and flattery to seamen 
when he wanted them, was persuasive, and in which he 
excelled every other man I ever was acquainted with. 
In fact I have seen him walk to and fro upon the 
key in 1 Orient, for hours together with a single sea 
man, in order to persuade him to sign the ship s articles 
which he commanded, and in which he often was suc 
cessful. His pressing American seamen in that port 
was very unpopular, and on that score he was con 
demned by all of the Americans who were there at the 
time, except a few of his officers who executed his or 
ders in this business. I am happy to say that I had no 
hand in this business. His pride and vanity while at 
Paris and Amsterdam, was not generally approved of 
after the famous sea battle. This certainly gave great 
umbrage to many persons who had been his best 

his remarks are omitted. It is enough to say that after a sharp engage 
ment the Triumph surrendered, but before being taken possession of, she 
made sail and finally escaped. In Mackenzie s life of Paul Jones will 
be found a full narration of this affair, as well as the story of the Ariel s 
voyage to Philadelphia. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

friends. His conduct however towards captain Par 
sons, his antagonist, was highly approved of by many, 
and was becoming that of a conqueror. His enemies, 
the English, even applauded this action towards one of 
their nation, and who was at the time Jones s prisoner, 
and by the custom and rules of war, he had an un 
doubted right to have kept all the effects, which he 
ordered sent to Captain Parsons, while at the Texel, by 
the hands of captain Cotteneau. 

I shall mention one circumstance more, and then 
close with the circumstances which took place near and 
at the time of his death. Which is as follows, taken 
from a verbal communication made to me some time 
after it happened, by an officer who was present. 

While Jones was on his first cruise in the Good Man 
Richard, the Alliance frigate being in company, they 
fell foul of each other, in consequence of this the for 
mer carried away the mizzen mast of the latter, and 
the latter carried away the head of the former. There 
was a pretty heavy sea running at the same time and 
both ships were for some time in danger of going down. 
It seems the two commanders at the time were below, 
who blamed their officers who had command of the 
watch upon deck on board of both ships. The first 
lieutenant of captain Jones who had the care of the 
watch then upon deck, and whose name was R. Robin 
son, was thought not to have done his duty, and of 
course was found fault with by Jones, who ordered him 
to be confined below. Soon after both ships arrived 
safe at 1 Orient, where, by captain Jones direction, a 
court martial (consisting of several American captains, 
whose vessels lay there at the time) was instituted to 
try Mr. R. The court sat on board the Good Man 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

Richard, when after hearing the witnesses, and what 
could be said for and against Mr. R. they gave it as 
their unanimous opinion that he should be dismissed 
from the service. 

This, when he heard of it, Jones absolutely refused to 
accept of. Tor, gentlemen, said he, it was in my 
power to have dismissed him without calling you to 
gether ; alledging that it became his duty as com 
manding officer to insist upon their adding something 
more to their sentence, and, in fact, told them what it 
was, which was that of rendering him incapable of ever 
serving again in the Navy of the United States, in the 
character of an officer. And in conformity thereto, it 
was added to the sentence of the Court, and read to 
Mr. R. in the presence of the said court. And Robin 
son was sent on shore immediately after this was done, 
without money and destitute of friends, although he 
had at the time money due him for his services. 1 

On or about the year 1792, captain Jones headed a 
party of American gentlemen at Paris, and went to the 
place where the constituent assembly (at the head of 
whom was the French King,) was sitting, to congratu 
late them in the name of all the Americans then resid 
ing in Paris, on their late glorious and happy revolu 
tion. Captain Jones, at the same time made a very 
handsome speech, which he addressed to the president 
of the assembly, who made a short but elegant reply. 

This was the last public act, which I have any know 
ledge of, that he ever did. Very soon after, as the Paris 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. It will be noticed, by reference to the muster-roll 
in the log-book, that Robinson s name appears as first lieutenant and 
Dale s as second lieutenant, showing that the muster-roll was made out 
before the Bon Homme Richard sailed on her second cruise with Dale 
as the first lieutenant. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

gazettes inform me, he died in great poverty in the city 
of Paris.* Immediately on this news reaching the 
ears of the constituent assembly, one of the members 
rose and made a motion, that a committee of their body 
should be chosen for the express purpose of attending 
the funeral of the deceased. This was objected to on 
the part of some of the members present, on account of 
his not being a Roman Catholic. This objection did 
not prevail, and the motion was then put and carried 
without a division. The Committee were accordingly 
chosen, and attended the American Commodore s 
funeral. 

It ought to have been mentioned in the foregoing 
Biographical sketch of the life, &c. of captain Jones, 
that after leaving the American naval service he was 
in the Russian naval service about eighteen months, and 
filled the station of Admiral. But through the intrigues 
and cabals of a number of English officers, then in the 
same service, the whole of which had a tendency to 
lessen his merits, and finally was the means of procur 
ing his dismissal from the Empress s service. 1 

* Notwithstanding captain Jones was said to have died in poverty 
yet I believe at this day it is pretty generally known in this country 
that he left in the United States property to the amount of about 
30,000 dollars, in new lands, and that there is no one who claims to 
be heir to this estate, except two maiden sisters who live in Scotland. 



1 NOTE BY EDITOR. It must be borne in mind that when Fanning 
wrote this sketch of the life of Paul Jones his information regarding 
him must have been very meagre, and gathered from the newspaper 
accounts or from his own recollection. Little or none of Jones s cor 
respondence had come to light, and except one or two scandalous chap- 
books, no sketch of Jones s life had been published. 



A SHORT SKETCH OF THE CHARACTER 
OF CAPTAIN PARSONS, 1 

Who commanded the Serapis, at the time of her en 
gagement with the Bon Homme Richard; part of 
which was communicated to me by one of his officers, 
after the battle of the 22d of September, I77Q. 

CAPTAIN PARSONS was born of poor parents, in 
the county of Cornwall, in England, on or about the 
year 1729. He lived with them in quite an obscure 
manner until he was about fourteen years of age, when 
he took it into his head to elope from his parents, and 
set out for Portsmouth, where he fell in with some 
sailors, who persuaded him to go on board of an Eng 
lish ship of war. He had acquired some learning be 
fore he left his parents. His activity and sprightliness 
were soon noticed by his superiors, and he was some 
time after, when he had got some knowledge of seaman 
ship, appointed captain of the mizzen top; from this to 
a forecastle man; and behaving himself remarkably 
well in the duties of his station, he was taken notice of 
by the Captain of the ship and promoted to the rank of 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. Fanning invariably called the captain of the Sera- 
pis "Parsons," when his name was Richard Pearson. It undoubtedly 
resulted from the English pronunciation of the name Pearson. Still, it 
seems as though Fanning should have seen the name written frequently. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

midshipman. From this his promotion in the British 
navy became rapid, and in a few years thereafter, he 
was appointed and had a commission for a sloop of war, 
and during the war between the English and French 
sometime before the beginning of the American revolu 
tion, he atchieved many acts of valour. I know noth 
ing further of him until after the famous battle be 
tween him and captain Jones. In this action every one 
who has read an account of it must allow that he did 
not lack of courage, and that his conduct while it lasted 
was such as would have done honour to the most ex 
perienced commander. His manner of conducting 
himself towards captain Jones, however, must be al 
lowed by impartial judges to be reprehensible in more 
than one instance. It showed something of the haughty 
spirit and pride of which we have many examples in 
the conduct of the British naval commanders, especially 
during the contest between Great Britain and the 
United States. It is well known that Captain Parsons 
was knighted by his King, and also that the merchants 
of Scarborough (where the greater part of the fleet 
which were under his convoy at the time captain Jones 
fell in with him belonged) made him an elegant present 
of a service of silver plate, part of which represented 
that town in miniature, worth about 500 guineas. These 
were conferred upon him as a mark of gratitude and 
esteem, because they thought he had conducted himself 
with naval skill and bravery. To this, and to this only, 
must be attributed the salvation of the whole Baltic 
fleet under his care at the commencement of the battle. 



CI22: 



A SHORT SKETCH OF THE CHARACTER OF 
RICHARD DALE ESQ* 1 

John Paul Jones s first lieutenant, when he commanded 
the Good Man Richard, of forty guns, until she was 
lost; the Serapis, of fifty guns; the Alliance of thirty 
six guns and the Ariel of twenty four guns; ships of 
war in the Service of the United States. 

RICHARD DALE ESQ. was born, if my memory 
serves me right, and according to what I have heard 
him say, in the state of Maryland. It seems when he 
was quite young that he took a liking to the sea, which 
has been his favorite element ever since. During the 
American Revolution he signalized himself in fighting 
the battles of his country, in consequence of which he 
added honor and glory to his own fame, and has de 
served well of the country which gave him birth. 

By his conduct, bravery, and perseverance, in the 
memorable battle fought between the Good Man Rich 
ard on board of which ship he was second in command, 

* While I am copying off my old journal in order, or with a view 
some time or other of having it committed to the press, I rejoice to 
hear that this experienced officer has been appointed by our Execu 
tive, Commodore of the American Squadron in the Mediterranean. 



1 NOTE BY EDITOR. This note of Fanning s apparently fixes the date 
of his effort to publish his narrative, as Commodore Dale was appointed 
to the command of the Mediterranean Squadron in the summer of 1801. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

and the Serapis he acquired universal applause, and im 
mortal glory. Since which time, while in the service 
of the navy of the United States, he has been conspicu 
ous, and his merits and gallantry upon all occasions, 
entitles his name to be enrolled among the saviors of 
our common country. 

While I sailed with him, he was beloved by his 
brother officers, and the ship s crews. And to use a 
sailor s phrase, He was a clever, good natured sea 
officer ; and was always diligent in his duty, which 
gained him the applause of his superiors. 

He was engaging in conversation, with all ranks of 
people, polite in his manners, and a good companion. 
He had none of that haughty, overbearing, domineer 
ing spirit about him, which is so frequently seen on 
board of English ships of war in officers of his rank 
towards their inferiors, especially the poor tars. 1 

/ shall now pursue the history of my Journal taking 
up the threads of it where I left off. 

On the aoth December, having obtained several let 
ters of recommendation, and some cash from French 

1 NOTE BY EDITOR. This scanty sketch of Dale is only valuable as giv 
ing some evidence of Dale s estimation by his subordinates, on the ships 
commanded by Jones, who claimed for himself the whole glory of his 
victories. In all the reports of his battles, Jones makes himself the only 
hero. He never in a single instance commends, or scarcely mentions, 
one of his officers, or gives any credit to others, by commendation, praise, 
or as contributing to his glory; in glorifying himself, he disparages 
others, and there is ample evidence of the lack of affectionate attach 
ment or sympathy on the part of his officers or crews to his person. 

Perhaps the most just analysis of Jones s character will be found in 
the concluding chapter of the life of Paul Jones by Alexander Slidell 
Mackenzie, U.S.N., published in Edinburgh, 1841 ; republished by Har 
per & Brothers, 1846. This author, more than any other biographer, 
makes use of Tanning s narrative, not always, however, quoting him. 

124:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

gentlemen with whom I had been in habits of intimacy 
* * * which was soon after returned to them * * * 
And now having been supplied with a passport, I set 
off by land for Morlaix, where I arrived safe on the 
23d of December, and delivered my letters of recom 
mendation to the persons to whom they were addressed, 
who appeared to be glad to see me, and immediately 
gave me the command of a lug sail privateer mounting 
14 carriage guns* called the Count de Guichen. 

This privateer was soon after got ready for sea, when 
the principal officers residing at the port, who were 
commissioned by the King, and who had the power of 
filling up all commissions of reprisal and letters of 
marque, declared that they had lately received orders 
from the minister of marine, who resided at Paris, for 
bidding them from granting or delivering out any 
commissions to foreigners. In consequence of this the 
command of said privateer was given to a captain 
Anthon, a Frenchman, who at the time was a lieutenant 
in the French navy, but had obtained permission to 
command a privateer until further orders. He was 
very much of a gentleman, a good seaman, and a man 
of undoubted bravery. The most of our officers and 
crew, however, consisted of full blooded yankees, or 
Bostonians, as the French then called all Americans, 
and of whom they were remarkable fond, amounting 
almost to adoration, particularly the French ladies. I 
was second captain of said privateer, and Captain An 
thon indulged me pretty much with the whole com 
mand of the privateer during the cruise. And as he 
could not speak any English, I did nearly as I pleased 
in all things on board of her; such as making or taking 

* Three pounders. 

125:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

in sail, chasing of vessels, disposing and commanding 
the crew in time of action, when to board an enemy, &c. 

Morlaix is a very large town, situate between two 
remarkably high mountains, and upon each side of a 
narrow river which divides the town in two parts, and 
empties itself into the English Channel about five miles 
from the town, which lies in lat. 48.20 long. 40-10 W. 
from the Meridian of London. Vessels of three hun 
dred tons burthen may lay in perfect safety alongside 
of the keys without being exposed to any winds that 
blow. They lie for the most part aground, upon a hard 
gravelly bottom, and are left dry at low water. This 
is a very great convenience, especially for graving or 
scrubbing their bottoms. The entrance of the port is 
well defended by a strong castle, which is built upon a 
range of rocks that lie midway of the entrance. It has 
two tier of heavy cannon, and in wartime, its garrison 
consists of about sixty officers and men. * * * 

On the 23d of March, 1781, we took our departure 
from Morlaix in the privateer which I have already 
given a description of. Two days afterwards we ar 
rived off the Coast of Ireland. On the 27th, we took 
four prizes, which we ransomed, detaining a man as an 
hostage out of each. On the 27th at daybreak, saw 
several ships and other vessels in shore of us. It being 
then calm, the boat was ordered to be manned, on board 
of which I embarked and took an officer with me, all 
of us being well armed ; and at 7 A.M. returned on board 
with ransom bills amounting to upwards of twelve hun 
dred guineas, having secured five hostages for the pay 
ment of said sum. We returned on board before the 
captain (who had been upon deck the greater part of 
the preceding night) had awakened out of his sleep. He 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

was very agreeably surprised when I told him of my 
enterprise, but blamed me for not acquainting him with 
my departure. At meridian being close under the land, 
we discovered a large ship in the offing, which we at 
first thought to be an English frigate, standing to the 
westward towards the port of Cork. She had an Eng 
lish ensign, pendant and jack flying with a cloud of sail 
spread. Soon after she was abreast of us, and we could 
distinguish by our spy glasses, that she had a tier of 
guns, and as she presented her broadside to us, we could 
count twelve guns upon this side. 

We at length concluded that she was nothing more 
than an English letter of marque, and probably com 
manded by an English swaggering blustering fellow. 
Accordingly she passed us at some distance, and took 
no more notice of us than if we had been a small fishing 
boat. We made sail after her, and when we had got 
within a couple of miles of her, she rounded to, and 
gave us her broadside, consisting of twelve cannon, as 
we then supposed, which were only half the number 
which she carried. This circumstance of firing at us 
at so great a distance, when none of her shot reached 
more than half way to us, indicated cowardice on the 
part of the English captain. This I noticed to captain 
Anthon who coincided with me in opinion; and from 
that moment we considered the ship as our own. As we 
approached nearer to her, we could discover that she 
made quite a warlike appearance. We could soon after 
perceive a number of men with muskets upon her quar 
ter-deck, and she appeared to be crowded with men. 
She continued to round to every few minutes, and fire 
her broadside at us. We now prepared everything in 
readiness for boarding her, knowing this method al- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

most always to succeed, when we have to contend with 
an English man of war, or an English letter of marque ; 
more especially when the strength of the enemy is 
superior in point of force. At length we got within 
cannon shot of the enemy, who hauled up their courses, 
handed their top gallant sails, and appeared to be mak 
ing every disposition for a stout resistance. We now 
shewed who we were by setting a French ensign, and 
hoisting an American pendant. This last was to let the 
English know that they had to fight with yankees. The 
drummer was sent up with his drum at the head of the 
foremast where supporting himself with one foot upon 
the rattline of the fore-shrouds, and the other upon the 
fore yard, the wind blowing about a four knot breeze; 
when we had got near enough for them to hear, the 
drummer and fifer were directed to play Yankee 
Doodle, which was continued during the action. 

By this time the ship had fired a number of broad 
sides at us, without doing us any injury. We at length 
came within pistol shot of her, ran under her stern, and 
poured our broadside into her, which raked her fore 
and aft and which made a confounded racket in the 
cabin among the crockery; and some women who were 
passengers on board, and were in the cabin at the time, 
made a dreadful screaching and crying out. This single 
broadside drove all the English off the quarter-deck, 
upon the main deck. We now made an attempt to 
board the enemy but the privateer having so quick 
headway we shot by her without being able to succeed 
in boarding her. We passed across her fore foot, wore, 
and gave her another broadside. At the same time one 
of the enemy s shot cut away our jib haulyards, and 
the slings of our fore-yard, and down it came upon 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

deck and the drummer with it. The enemy seeing this, 
cheered three times; and after firing her broadsides and 
musketry into us, they made all the sail which they 
could crowd from us. But we had no idea of losing 
her in this manner. We soon got everything which 
had been cut away in repair, and gave her chase; the 
wind then began to die, and we gained upon her very 
fast. When the enemy saw this, they again made every 
disposition which they thought proper for renewing 
the action. Being ourselves now prepared with two 
broadsides and men ready for boarding; I then went 
forward, they being within hail and commanded them 
to haul their colours down, if they wished for quarters, 
to which they made no answer. I then desired captain 
Anthon to order the privateer to be run under the 
enemy s stern, when we would give her another broad 
side; immediately after which I was ready with the 
party I commanded to board her. Accordingly we ran 
under her stern, fired our cannon into her cabin win 
dows, luffed up under her lee, and layed her aboard. 
At the same instant the enemy bawled out for quarters 
and dowsed the British flag. 

The action lasted about one hour, and some part of 
it was very severe. She proved to be an English letter 
of marque, four hundred tons burthen, carrying twelve 
long six pounders, two short carronades (which would 
carry eighteen pound shot) ten cowhorns, twelve brass 
swivels, and fifty five men, and twenty six gentlemen 
passengers, besides seven English ladies. She was from 
Bristol, bound to the West Indies, laden principally 
with dry goods. 

The invoice of her cargo amounted to thirty thou 
sand pounds sterling. 

129 ] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

I leaped on board of her at the time she struck, and 
asked for the captain, who came forward and delivered 
me his sword ; a major and a captain also delivered me 
their swords. These last were bound to the West Indies 
to join the regiment to which they belonged. The ladies 
also crowded around me, and offered me their purses, 
which I refused to accept of. 

One of them was wringing her hands, and lamenting 
the loss of her husband, who had been killed in the 
first of the action by one of our cannon shot which 
passed through his body. The other gentlemen pas 
sengers kept crowding round me, and teazing me with 
their outcries: that I had killed one of his majesty s 
colonels. Which drew from me this reply Blast his 
majesty s colonels, I wish they were all dead, and his 
majesty too. I was sorry for this expression, I must 
confess, as soon as it had escaped my lips it was un 
charitable, and unchristianlike. However I was busy 
at the time, in securing the prisoners, and sending them 
on board the privateer, and in doing what I considered 
to be my duty, and was therefore, perhaps on that ac 
count the more excusable. 

I certainly felt sorry on the lady s account whose 
husband was killed, and to her I made an apology for 
the harshness of the expression; but I did not feel my 
self bound to apologise to any one else, on the most 
rigid principles of honour or good breeding. 

It must be acknowledged, that this ship so well pro 
vided as she was, with all kinds of warlike stores, and 
having at the time, more and heavier guns than what 
we had on board of our privateer ought to have taken 
us, and afterwards hoisted her in upon deck. * * * 

The ship lost in the action, one lieutenant colonel, 

1:130:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

one master s mate, one boatswain s mate, four seamen 
and one boy killed, and eleven men and boys wounded. 
On board of our privateer not a man was killed, and 
only five were slightly wounded. 

I wished to continue in the prize but captain Anthon 
would not consent to it. All the officers as well pas 
sengers, as those who belonged to the ship, and her 
men, except three, and one of the master s mates were 
taken out of the prize, and sent on board of the priva 
teer. The ladies were left on board the ship with their 
servants, by their particular request. 

We then put a prize master on board, with thirteen 
able seamen, and he was ordered to shape his course 
and make all possible speed for Brest or Morlaix; and 
that the privateer should, if in our power, keep her 
company until we arrived safe at one of those ports. 

We accordingly kept with this valuable prize until 
in sight of Ushant, near the entrance of Brest, when 
there sprung up a violent gale of wind from the N.E. 
which separated us from our prize, (and we after 
wards heard that she was taken by the English) and 
after having sprung a leak, we were forced to heave 
overboard all our guns but four, and in two days there 
after we arrived in the port of Brest in distress, and she 
leaked so bad at the time that we were obliged to lay 
her ashore on our arrival in order to have her leak 
stopped and her bottom cleaned. 

The port of Brest is one of the best sea-ports for ships 
of war in the Known world. It lies upon the Atlantic 
Ocean, on the starboard hand of the British Channel, 
and is in lat. 48.25 N. and in long. 5.0 W. from the 
meridian of London. The Land s End of England 
bears North a little westerly from it. Ships of the line, 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

fifty s, forty-four s, frigates, and sloops of war, all lie 
at their respective moorings in the harbour, in about 
seven fathoms of water, when the tide is at its lowest 
ebb, and perfectly secure from any wind that blows; 
as the harbour is surrounded with land the most of 
which is very high, especially at the entrance where it 
is very strongly fortified. Each ship of war has her 
particular magazine or store, which is numbered, and 
her name affixed upon the door in capital letters ; where 
when the ship is laid up in dock, or refitting, her sails 
rigging, &c. are deposited; and when they have oc 
casion for rigging sails, or any thing requisite to the 
fitting out of any one of these ships of war, they have 
only to repair to the magazine of such ship or ships, 
where they are sure to find a fresh supply of any article 
needed. This, it must be acknowledged, is a very great 
conveniency; and I believe, such an one as the English 
cannot boast of. 

As I had leisure time while I was here, I went to see 
the slaves, who are confined in this place; and who are 
employed by the government, in the docks, and in dif 
ferent parts of the town, and the place where they are 
confined, which is an amazing strong one. They have 
a great number of rooms, where they are all chained at 
night, fifty or sixty in a groupe together, to a huge 
chain, leading to an enormous ring-bolt affixed in the 
centre of each room. They have a little straw to lie 
upon, and are arranged feet to feet, and form a circle 
round the ring-bolt. And at the door of each room, 
which is as strong as wood and iron, assisted by art, 
can make it; there is mounted a cannon, loaded with 
round and grape shot, ready primed; by the side of 
\vhich is placed a lighted match, in a match tub; and 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

upon the least noise of the slaves, the sentinel s orders 
are to fire this cannon in amongst them (which I was 
told happened sometimes;) as there are many of them 
who choose rather to die a sudden death at the mouth of 
the cannon, than to continue in this state of slavery and 
wretchedness any longer. So that they often raised a 
noise on purpose that they may provoke their inhuman 
tormentors to send them into another world. 

There are among them men who have been rich; 
merchants whose only crime has been that of carrying 
on an illicit trade to and from different parts of the 
kingdom, for which they were condemned to be galley 
slaves a very considerable part of their lives ; many of 
whom have large and very respectable families. But 
these last are often pointed at by the unthinking multi 
tude, w r ith the finger of scorn. And for what; because, 
forsooth, the heads of these distressed families are 
slaves. Alas, poor human nature! My pen is ready 
to drop from my hand, while I relate such barbarous 
facts of a nation, who call themselves civilized. The 
aborigines of the wilds of America, would have shud 
dered, blushed, and stood amazed, at such transactions 
as these; who certainly were guilty of crimes that admit 
of no excuse. I beg the reader s pardon for this di 
gression; I could no more refrain from it, than I could 
turn away from a poor ragged beggar with disdain, 
when asked by him for something to buy him a piece of 
bread, when famishing with hunger. Some of these 
merchants are sentenced for three, some for four, and 
some for six years, according to the nature of their 
crimes. Some of the last are allowed, and do fre 
quently afford themselves silver chains, and which I 
have seen them wear. But notwithstanding this, they 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

are obliged to work as hard, and submit their backs 
to the sting of the whip during their servitude, as those 
who are condemned for murder, robbery, &c. Those 
guilty of these crimes are for the most part slaves for 
life. The greater number of them, as I was informed, 
(in this port) by one of the officers of the admiralty, 
exceeds six thousand. The chains that each one is 
obliged to wear, or drag about with him while on duty, 
(the merchants, who wear silver ones, excepted;) al 
though they are chained together two by two, weigh 
about forty-five English pounds per head, and double 
that to two of these, are fixed to their legs; but when 
they are at work, they are permitted to attach the loose 
part of their respective chains round their waists, and 
with a piece of rope-garter, &c. to facilitate their 
labour. There are four overseers, or drivers, to every 
hundred of them, who carry each a long tough whip, 
and which are often in motion ; with these they shew but 
little mercy to the poor wretches. They are whipped 
so unmercifully sometimes, that they have scarcely the 
breath of life left in them. They are dressed in coarse 
red clothes, with leather caps upon their heads, on the 
front of which are affixed pieces of tin or brass, on 
which are engraved in capital letters, their respective 
crimes for which they were condemned; but they often 
deny that they have been guilty of any, when they are 
asked by strangers. The Count D Artois, one of the 
princes of the blood royal, was not long since here, his 
Christian majesty s brother; and had a desire to see the 
slaves; to several of whom he gave money, and asked 
them severally, what were their crimes; who answered 
that they had been guilty of none. He observed that 
one of them looked more sad than his fellows, and did 

134:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

not incline to say anything. The prince then entered 
into conversation with him. And what crime have 
you committed, said the prince. "Come, be in 
genuous, and tell the truth, my lad," continued he. 
"Why," replied the slave, after a short pause, "my 
crime, for which I am doomed to wear these chains, 
and to drag out a miserable existence (pardon me, my 
good prince) is of the blackest kind: and it makes me 
shudder to reflect upon it. About six years ago, my 
unnatural parents, (God forgive them) who are still 
very wealthy, forced me to marry a young woman 
whom I had conceived a great aversion to; and who 
(for what reason I cannot tell) I hated with the most 
bitter hatred, insomuch that I murdered her on the 
same night in which the priest joined us together in 
wedlock; for which I am condemned to wear these 
galling chains." The prince was convinced that this 
miserable wretch spoke the truth, for it was engraven 
on his forehead (which was also the case with the other 
slaves whom he had questioned, although they had 
denied it,) and appeared to be much affected with the 
poor slave s confession, and in a short time thereafter 
procured him his liberty. 

There are in this port some of the most convenient 
dry docks for ships of war that I ever saw, and perhaps 
in the known world. Likewise a very curious machine 
for hoisting in and out first rate men of war s lower 
masts, (as well as smaller vessels.) It is done with so 
much expedition that I have seen them strike out a 
seventy-four s lower masts which had been sprung or 
damaged, and replace them with three new ones in the 
space of sixty-four minutes; as I was particular enough 
to look at my watch when they began, and when they 

135:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

had finished ; for this reason, I assert it as a fact. The 
slaves are employed in this kind of business, in the 
arsenals, and ship-yards. 

While I was at Brest, the Coronne of eighty guns, 
almost a new ship, newly sheathed with copper, having 
just hauled out of one of the dry docks, and lying along 
side of the Key, (or Quay) took fire, and was consumed 
to the water s edge, in spite of the exertions of several 
thousands of people to extinguish it. Happily for the 
inhabitants of the town that she had no powder on 
board, and that no lives were lost. A new ship of the 
same name, mould, &c. was soon after ordered by the 
minister of marine to be built with the greatest dispatch 
possible. And I have since been informed by crediti- 
ble persons, that in seven weeks, counting from the time 
the keel was laid, she was ready to sail with the fleet, 
having all her guns, provisions, &c., on board. And 
what induced me to believe this was a fact is, that it has 
since been mentioned upon the floor of the house of 
commons in England, by one of the members of parlia 
ment, in order probably to shew how much greater 
exertions in such business the French were capable 
of than the English, who boast so much of their ex 
pedition in building, fitting out, and commanding their 
navy. 

On the yth of April, our privateer being refitted and 
ready for another cruise, we put to sea, and shaped our 
course for the coast of Ireland, where we arrived on the 
xoth following; and on the izth we took two prizes. 
We cruised off or in sight of the highlands of Dun- 
garvan till the 3Oth, without capturing any other 
vessels, the wind during that time being to the west 
ward ; but on this day at the setting of the sun the wind 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

shifted to the eastward, which we considered as a fa 
vourable omen, as this wind was fair to waft some rich 
English ships from Bristol or Liverpool, along the 
Irish coast. On the next day we took three small Eng 
lish sloops, two of which we ransomed, and the other 
we sunk, after having taken out the crew. 

At 7 A.M. we discovered several square rigged vessels, 
and by 2 P.M. we had eleven sail brought to; at 5 P.M. 
w r e had got through with ransoming all of them, and 
we took hostages out of each for the better security of 
the ransom bills. At 6 P.M. saw two lofty ships to the 
windward with a crowd of sail set standing before the 
wind directly before us. All hands were now called to 
quarters and we lay to for them till 8 o clock at night, 
when they came within hail of us. The foremost and 
the largest ship hailed us, and as soon as she knew us 
to be an enemy she gave us a gun. But the captain of 
the privateer thought it advisable to run from them. 
When I told him that if these two were English cruisers 
we were too near them to get away, and if they were 
merchantmen we should stand a chance of capturing 
them both. Accordingly, orders were given to fire a 
broad-side into the largest (the other being also at this 
time within gun shot,) which was executed, and she 
settled down her topsails instantly and begged for quar 
ters, hove to, and struck her flag. We then gave the 
small ship the other broad-side, and she followed the 
example of her consort. The boat was now manned, 
and I was sent to take possession of these prizes, and to 
send the captains, with their papers, on board of the 
privateer. When I arrived on board of the largest I 
found that she was pierced for eighteen guns, but carry 
ing at the time only eight carriage guns, and ten 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

wooden (or Quaker) guns, manned with twenty-five 
officers, men and boys, burthen about three hundred 
tons, bound from Bristol to Cork. I dispatched the 
capt. of her on board of the privateer. It was now 
pretty dark. But I had not been on board of this ship 
to exceed fifteen minutes, before I saw a strange sail 
bearing directly down upon us, and by her manoeuver- 
ing I had reason to believe her an enemy. The handful 
of men which came on board with me I placed to the 
ship s guns, and made other preparations for engaging, 
(not being at this time within hail of the privateer.) 
The prisoners I also secured below. She boldly ran 
under our stern and hailed. (I could now just discern 
the privateer s lights.) The master of which, in a bold 
and resolute manner demanded from whence we came, 
and where bound. In answer, I ordered him to go 
on board of the privateer, where, when he arrived he 
would probably be acquainted with, where we were 
from, and where bound. When he heard this he swore 
at a dreadful rate, and almost stove his speaking trum 
pet to pieces across the quarter-rail. Arriving on board 
of the privateer, (our bold captain who commanded 
the brig I had just brought to) asked for the captain of 
the privateer; when one of the lieutenants who spoke 
English, introduced him to captain Anthon; who im 
mediately asked him who he was. Who replied, Sir, 
I was master of the brig which the ship obliged me to 
bring to, the captain of which ordered me on board of 
this lugger. Very well, replied captain Anthon, I 
will attend to your business when I have done with 
these other two captains (meaning the masters of the 
ships.) The poor captain of the brig not rightly under 
standing what all this meant, spoke again to captain 

1:1383 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

Anthon, and said, Sir, I hope you are an Englishman, 
and this is an English privateer; for I certainly took 
the ship which brought me to, to be an English letter 
of marque. She is so, replied captain Anthon, (in 
broken English) but notwithstanding, she is my prize, 
and so is your brig; but it is the fortune of war, and 
therefore make yourself easy. In fine, we ransomed 
the two ships, having first thrown overboard their guns, 
powder, &c. out of them, (according to custom), for 
three thousand two hundred guineas; and the brig and 
cargo for five hundred. However, these two sums were 
not more than half the value of these vessels; but we 
thought it more prudent to ransom them for this sum 
than to run the risque of sending them to France. After 
this we shaped our course for Morlaix, having now on 
board ransom bills to the amount of ten thousand, four 
hundred and fifty guineas, besides eleven men as host 
ages, till that sum was paid. On our way thither we 
fell in with an English frigate called the Aurora, of 
twenty-eight guns, between Scilly and the Land s End ; 
which, after a chase of sixteen hours, part of which 
time it blew very fresh, and she out carried us, she 
captured us and carried us into Monts Bay, which lies 
a little distance easterly from the Land s End, and 
where there is a small town called Penzance, about 
forty miles W.S.W of Falmouth. 

The captain of the Aurora was a Scotchman, whose 
name was Collins, treated us exceedingly handsome, as 
he did not suffer any of his crew to take the least thing 
from any of us. Captain Anthon even saved his spy 
glasses, quadrant, maps, &c. belonging to the privateer. 

It was on the night of the 4th of May that we were 
thus captured, and on the day our hostages having been 

[1393 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

released, we were all searched for ransom bills. Cap 
tain Anthon having before delivered to captain Col 
lins two parcels for genuine ones ; but they were such as 
we had filled up during the chase, for the express pur 
pose of retaining those which were original. These 
last he concealed in his breeches, by which means they 
were saved, as will appear in the sequel. We went 
through another search without any better success on 
their part than at first. The genuine ransom bills were 
afterwards sent to France by a safe conveyance. 

It seems that during the last war there was an ad 
ditional clause affixed to each ransom bill, which speci 
fied that the master of every vessel, after having been 
ransomed by an enemy, bound himself, his heirs, execu 
tors, and assigns, to pay the sum mentioned in the ran 
som bill or bills, in case the privateer should be taken, 
and the hostages released; provided, that the owners 
of such privateer could get the ransom bill or bills 
into his or their possession, to be afterwards produced 
in England for the final recovery of such sum or sums 
of money; and that the holders of said bills should 
bona fide be paid. This was the cause of our being so 
very strictly searched, and was the reason, or at least one 
among many more, why the British parliament passed 
a law not long since, purporting that no master or com 
mander of an English vessel should on no pretence 
whatever ransom his vessel, &c. 

On the yth of May the captain of the Aurora or 
dered all of us but our first lieutenant, pilot, and boat 
swain, (who were all three soon after tried and hanged, 
they having been in the English service previous there 
to, and were known by some of the ship s crew which 
captured us.) I say, all the rest of our privateer s crew 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

were ordered to get ready to go on shore, which we did. 
And as captain Anthon and myself were ready, and 
waiting to embark on board of the boats then lying 
along side; the captain of the frigate, with his own 
hands, and in a very polite manner, handed us our side 
arms. Saying, as he presented me mine, Sir, you are 
welcome to it, but I hope you never will unsheath it 
again in anger against those who ever have esteemed 
the Americans as Englishmen. We afterwards landed, 
and the principal officer here under the king, invited 
captain Anthon and myself to his house, where we 
were entertained by himself and family with hos 
pitality and politeness. The next day we were allowed 
to furnish ourselves with a post chaise, and the king s 
officer furnished us with passports, and directed us to 
proceed with all convenient speed to Falmouth; and 
when we arrived there, he told us to call upon the 
mayor of that place who he said would parole us. 

We accordingly set off in the post chaise without a 
single person to guard us, and we might, had we been 
so minded, travelled on so far as London. We had 
however pledged our words to the king s officer that 
we would go direct to Falmouth. On our way thither 
we passed through the town of Holston, where we saw 
several French officers paroled in the town, some of 
whom we had been acquainted with in France. We 
arrived in the evening at Falmouth, when we called 
upon the mayor, who treated us with politeness. We 
had not been long at his house, before the English com 
missary for prisoners of war came into the room where 
we were, when we were introduced to him by the mayor 
who stated our case to him; but as soon as he cast his 
eyes the second time upon captain Anthon, he knew 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

him, and accused him of breaking his parole at Hol- 
ston, some months previous to the time I am now speak 
ing of, and which appeared to be true. This being the 
case with Captain Anthon, he was refused to be 
paroled. The commissary then turned to me and asked 
me if it was my wish to have my parole. I replied, 
that if my captain went to prison, I should certainly 
think it my duty to accompany him, and this was my 
choice. He after paying me a compliment on account 
of my attachment to capt. Anthon, told me I should be 
indulged in my choice. A guard was now called and 
escorted us to prison the same night, which was about 
two miles from Falmouth. The very dirtiest and the 
most loathsome building I ever saw. Besides, we had 
no sooner heard the prison doors closed upon us than 
we were attacked on all sides with swarms of lice, re 
markably fat and full grown; bed bugs and fleas. I 
believe the former were of Dutch extraction, as there 
were confined here at this time a number of Dutch 
prisoners of war; and such a company of dirty fellows 
I never saw before nor since. The first night I did not 
close my eyes, although fatigued ; and I must confess I 
began to repent my not accepting of my parole when 
it was offered me. On the dawn of the next morning, 
I waited with no small anxiety for the prison doors to 
be opened, which however was not done until the sun 
arose. I now got out of reach of my mighty tormentors 
by walking out in the yard adjoining the prison. In the 
course of the day some of the prisoners were so generous 
as to cede to captain Anthon and myself one corner of 
the prison which they had occupied and which we got 
cleansed. We then screened, with some sheets, our little 
apartment; and having provided ourselves with a large 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

swinging cot, wide enough for both to sleep in it. This 
arrangement enabled us to live somewhat more com 
fortable, and to keep out of the way in some measure of 
the vermin. 

On the i ^th the commissary sent orders to the gaoler, 
for Captain Anthon and myself to be permitted to walk 
without the prison yard every day at the rising of the 
sun, provided that we would promise to return at sun 
set, and be confined within the prison walls every night; 
and provided we would engage not to go farther from 
the place of confinement than one mile and an half; 
to which we readily agreed with infinite pleasure. Ac 
cording to this agreement we had our liberty granted 
us every morning at sun rise, and returned to the prison 
every evening at sun set, and we slept within the prison 
walls at night, observing strictly never to tarry out 
longer than the appointed time. 

There were a great number of farm houses within 
our limits, to which we used to resort, the inhabitants 
of which treated us with hospitality and kindness ; and 
where I spent many agreeable hours with the Cornish 
girls* who are generally tolerably handsome and good 
company; but at the same time they are very ignorant, 
and credulous sometimes. 

We went to the exhibition of cockfighting; a place 
called a cockpit, made on purpose, was within our 
limits. At this diversion I have frequently seen the 
mayor of Falmouth, magistrates, merchants, ladies of 
distinction, and almost all grades of people. The cock 
fight is generally announced in public advertisements, 
when and where to be exhibited. At one of these (not 
withstanding against the laws of the country) I have 

*It was in the country of Cornwall where we were prisoners. 

C 43 3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

seen great crowds of people. They make large bets 
upon the cocks which are to fight as soon as they are 
gafted, and brought into the pit. At the last exhibition 
of this kind that I went to see I believe there were at 
least two thousand men, women and children; when I 
saw the sum of two hundred guineas staked on the head 
of a cock, but their common bets are from one to twelve 
guineas each, upon a single battle. This kind of di 
version (though a barbarous one in my opinion) lasts 
a day; during which time there are a great many cocks 
slain in the field of battle, besides broken heads among 
the men. 

After having tarried here about six weeks, we were 
exchanged, and arrived in Cherbourg in France, the 
latter end of June, from whence all of us who came 
over in the cartel, to the number of one hundred and 
twenty-five, including several Americans, were con 
ducted under a strong guard through the country to 
Brest, in order to help man the grand French fleet of 
war, then lying at that place. From Cherbourg to 
Brest is about two hundred and sixty English miles. 
Upon the road I was plundered of the greater part of 
my wearing apparel, for which I never obtained any 
redress, neither did I know who did it; I however 
suspected the guard who accompanied us. We were 
ten days upon our march, but no more than about 
seventy out of the whole number of those who had been 
exchanged reached Brest at the expiration of that time; 
the rest deserted on the road. Arriving at Brest, I ap 
plied to the French commissary (with whom I had 
previously formed an acquaintance) for a passport to 
go to Morlaix. He condescended to grant me one, and 
at the same time told me that if I had arrived before 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the grand fleet had sailed, I should have had the honour 
of serving his most Christian Majesty in the navy at 
least one campaign. 

Soon after this, I set out from Brest for Morlaix, 
where I arrived in a few hours, and where I found a 
French brigantine letter of marque ready to sail for 
the West-Indies, on board of which I engaged a pas 
sage, and room for some freight. I made a partial 
settlement with my owners, and obtained of them some 
wines, and a quantity of dry-goods, which I shipped on 
board of said vessel. I received also of them five thou 
sand Livres Tournois* in cash. I embarked on board 
of said vessel with my little all in high spirits, hoping 
once more to see my native country. Having taken 
leave of all my friends, we set sail for our port of 
destination on the iath of July, 1781, with a favourable 
wind. 

The brig on board of which I had embarked was 
cutter built, and consequently a prime sailer. She 
mounted 16 guns, and carried 41 officers, men, and boys, 
besides seven men passengers. On the i4th, about 5 
leagues N.W. of Ushant, we were chased by an Eng 
lish frigate four or five hours, but night came on and 
we lost sight of her. The same night we experienced 
a violent gale of wind which forced us ashore a few 
leagues to the westward of the Isle of Bass, no great 
distance from Morlaix. Here the brigantine and cargo 
were totally lost. And it was not without the greatest 
hazard and difficulty that we all got safe to land. By 
this sad and lamentable shipwreck, I had lost every 
farthing of money and property which I possessed or 
owned in the world, and which reduced me once more 

*A Livre Tournois is about ig l / 2 cents. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

to beggary. After I got safe on shore, I could not help 
reflecting on my past misfortunes, which it seemed to 
me were never to end. However, I soon recovered 
from such visionary ideas; I grew calm, and I came to 
this determination, never to attempt again to cross the 
vast Atlantic Ocean until the god of war had ceased to 
waste human blood in the western world. I considered 
that it made but a little difference whether I fought 
under the French or American flag, as long as I fought 
against the English ; and besides, the French at the time 
were our allies and best friends. 

I therefore once more set out for Morlaix, where I 
arrived on the lyth, and was very kindly received by 
the ladies and gentlemen of my acquaintance. I had 
by this time made some progress in the French tongue, 
and could converse a little with the ladies, who always 
seemed to be very anxious to instruct me, and to put me 
right when I made any blunders, or pronounced an in 
decent word, which often happens to a new beginner, 
who has but a small smattering of their language. I 
had now some leisure hours to visit the public amuse 
ments and diversions in this place. 

The latter end of August I set out for Dunkirk, 
which is about six hundred miles between the north and 
the east from Morlaix, with an intention of going an 
other cruise with my old friend captain Anthon, in a 
large cutter of eighteen guns, the command of which 
had been conferred on him. The first day (having a 
good horse) I arrived at Dinan, a very considerable 
inland town, lying on the eastern boundary of the 
province of Brittany, situate upon an eminence, a noted 
place for the confinement of English prisoners of war. 
The town is pretty large, and it is defended on all sides 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

by a prodigious strong castle large enough, it is said, to 
contain ten thousand men. The town is walled in, 
within which there were confined at this time, four 
thousand English prisoners of war. The next day I 
entered, and travelled on in the province of Normandy, 
said to be the largest and best province in France. I 
passed through a great many towns and villages, part of 
which were walled in, and arrived at the city of Caen, 
the capital of this province, a handsome built flourishing 
place. In my travelling along through the small towns 
and villages,* I found most of the houses only one story 
high, without any floor but the naked ground, and the 
people who dwelt in them without any thing better to 
sleep upon than straw, and even in this their cattle par 
took a share with them. 

The public roads in this country swarm with beg 
gars; and whenever a carriage passes or men on horse 
back, men, women, and children, all in rags, will be 
seen running and hallooing after those who pass for 
charity. I have often thrown a handful of sous among 
them to prevent them from following me any farther, 
and while they were scrambling after these I would 
steal a march upon them, and get out of their sight, but 
it was not long before I would meet others of the same 
description, and their importunities would be so inces 
sant and so moving, that I could not get rid of them 
until I had thrown some more change in among them. 
A great many of these beggars live upon each side of the 
public roads, in caves made or dug out of the earth, and 

* These towns and villages are mostly built with stone, and are 
very low. I have frequently seen in one of these houses a family of 
men, women, and children; cow, horse, goat, sow and pigs; all hud 
dled together in a single room without any floor. 

C 147:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

covered over with the same, each of these generally 
contain a little family; they do not appear to have any 
household utensils; and nothing to lie on but straw. 
They are for the most part very dirty. At the door of 
each hut or cave, one of the family keeps a look out, and 
whenever they hear or see any carriages, people on 
horse back or otherwise passing, the beggar on duty or 
watch gives the rest the alarm. In a moment the road 
will be nearly filled with them. And night or day, it 
is morally impossible to pass without giving them some 
money; and even if you throw them any there will be 
some among them who have not got a share of it, and 
who will follow after you as fast as their legs will 
carry them for several miles together; and the boys 
will run almost as fast as the fleetest horse upon these 
occasions. I remember one instance on the road which 
I was travelling at the time on horseback, in company 
with a gentleman between Paris and Dunkirk, that we 
overtook three of these beggar boys, who had at that 
instant crept out of their den; neither of us had any 
change, accordingly we agreed as soon as they began to 
beg charity of us, to clap spurs to our horses and leave 
them. These boys appeared to be from eleven to four 
teen years of age; they had not then upon them any 
thing but a few rags, not sufficient to cover their naked 
ness, without any hats, and their hair appeared as 
though a comb had never touched it. We accordingly 
set off upon a full gallop, and they after us close to our 
horses heels, until we had rode about ten miles, when 
the youngest boy began to fall astern. The other two 
still held out and kept as near us as they were when 
they first started with us. At length I was tired myself 
in riding so fast, being mounted upon a hard going 

i: 148:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

horse, and I spoke to the gentleman in company with 
me to halt, which we both did. I then gave the largest 
boy a crown, and bade him divide it equally between 
the three, whom I now found to be brothers, by enquir 
ing of the largest boy, and that they dwelt together in 
one cave, where they had left their father and mother 
when they came in pursuit of us. The beggar boys now 
appeared to be satisfied, and we pursued our journey. 
My reflections now led me to consider from what 
source originate such multitudes of beggars in France, 
and after weighing the subject every way maturely, I 
concluded it must be owing to the government under 
which they lived, being at this time swayed by a king, 
with his swarms of nobles, farmers general,* and other 
royal leaches, who are continually preying upon and 
devouring the hard earnings of the people. 

O, my country! how happy a lot has Providence 
placed her in. Thank God, there are no royal leaches 
there, and I sincerely pray to him that we may never 
have any; nor any of those beggarly outcasts of society, 
of whom I have attempted to give the reader a faint 
description. No, my countrymen, remember this (nor 
does it require the spirit of prophecy to predict,) that 
whenever the first class, to wit, nobles, and royal 
leaches, are established in the United States, beggary, 
with all its horrors and torments, will be the unhappy 
portion of the greater part of those citizens and their 
families, who are now considered as good livers, but 

*The great collectors of the royal taxes, with whom the govern 
ment was in the habit of contracting for large sums of money, and 
which they used to advance to the government, and then tax the peo 
ple as they pleased, without being accountable to any one, even if the 
people were oppressed ever so much. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

according to some, the lower class of people in that 
happy country. May God of his infinite mercy avert 
such a judgment, should be the hearty prayer of every 
good citizen of the United States. 

This I believe to be a fact, that those whom we call 
poor people in America, know nothing, absolutely 
nothing of poverty, such as the beggars in France ex 
perience. Any traveller must have a heart harder than 
adamant who can refuse to give them a small pittance 
of such riches as Providence has placed in his hands. 
To see hundreds of aged, halt and maimed, of our fel 
low creatures begging for charity, would, methinks, 
melt, if possible, the heart of a stone. To see them 
crawling out of their caves like four footed beasts, and 
cry charity, (Mon cher Monsieur, je prie au bon Dieu 
pour vous) my dear Sir, I will pray to God for you. 
The little naked children, fifty, and sometimes seventy 
in a drove, running and following after people in car 
riages, on horse-back, &c. for miles, making a most 
hideous noise, would move the most obdurate heart to 
pity them in such a manner as to induce a few pence to 
be given to these real objects of charity. 

But to return ; the city of Caen is a very large populous 
one ; very handsomely built, and in my opinion but little 
inferior to the city of Paris, for beauty and magnifi 
cence. It is true, there are here no palaces, but the 
buildings in general are more elegant, the streets much 
handsomer, and the city is more pleasantly situated in 
many respects. It lies about nine miles south of the 
English channel, in lat. 49.10 N. West long. 30 minutes. 
The taxes in this place are enormously high, as well as 
in other parts of Normandy, occasioned, as I was in 
formed, by a rebellion which took place in the province 

[ISO] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

a great many years ago. They are obliged to pay the 
king a higher duty on wine than it costs them when 
they purchase it; and there is but a small chance of 
introducing this or any other article here without pay 
ing the duties even in the way of smuggling them. 
They are obliged to buy salt for their own consumption 
at a very high rate of the officers of the crown, (who 
are monopolizers of it) and on which there is a duty of 
three sous per quart, and every family are obliged to 
buy so much annually, whether they want it or not, ac 
cording to the respective number which each family 
consists of. If any one is detected in having a quantity 
of salt water in his or her house, which can be proved 
to have been taken out of the sea, the person in whose 
custody it is found is liable to pay a fine of twenty-five 
guineas to the king. Should the person after conviction 
not be liable to pay that sum, he or she is imprisoned 
for one year, unless a bondsman is procured to be an 
swerable for said fine in a reasonable time, to be ap 
proved of by the king s officers. Upon the whole, there 
is nothing in this province but what is taxed either by 
the crown, the nobles, (who have large estates in the 
province) or the royal leaches. I was told by an Eng 
lish gentleman residing there, and who had been an 
inhabitant of the place for upwards of twenty years, 
that this province alone paid to the officers of the crown 
one hundred million of livres annually; (which is over 
four millions sterling) and this in peace, and double 
that sum in time of war. From Caen (where there are 
the handsomest women in France) I set out in the pub 
lic stage for a place called Enfleur,* where I arrived 
safe in about six hours, and where I was obliged to wait 
* Honfleur. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

about two hours for the current to slack, as it runs al 
most as rapid in this river between this place and 
Havre de Grace, as in Hell Gate in America. This 
little town of Enfleur is celebrated for producing from 
their bakehouses the whitest and best bread of any other 
place in the whole kingdom. At four in that afternoon 
I crossed over the river to Havre de Grace in a kind 
of flat bottomed boat with one sail to her; I observed, 
however, that the people or boatmen, who undertook 
the management of her, did not understand their busi 
ness so well as they ought. This is a very large town, 
and a sea port, very delightfully situated on the Eng 
lish channel, at the mouth of the river Seine. It lies in 
lat. 49.20 Ion. 10. West. It has no harbour, but vessels 
trading here, as well as ships of war, may enter that 
bason, which is very large, but this must be done at 
high water, and when the current of the river does not 
run away, (which current is the most rapid that I ever 
knew in any other whatever.) It was low water when 
I crossed it, and consequently there was scarcely any 
motion of the current observable. 

About an hour after there was a large galliot, being 
(as was supposed) too late in regard to the tide, made 
an attempt to gain the bason, the wind at the same time 
blowing fresh and favourable for her; when she had 
got abreast of the bason, the people on board of her 
lowered down her sails, and endeavoured with a boat 
to carry a line on shore at the quay, in which they did 
not succeed, as the current had by this time got to run 
ning very rapidly, which swept her away with it. The 
people in the boat reached the galliot and let go an 
anchor, which did not check her an instant; the current 
at length forced her up the river about three leagues, 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

when she struck upon a shoal, and in a few moments 
after went to pieces, and every soul on board perished. 

I was told by some of the people in this place, that 
they never had seen or heard of any vessel attempting 
to enter the bason when the current was at its greatest 
swiftness, but what had been forced by the current upon 
some of the shoals (which the river abounds with) and 
lost, both vessel and crew; so great is the rapidity of 
the tide. 

The town is very well built, the streets exceeding 
handsome, and it is strongly fortified. The public 
walks a little distance from the town are the most beau 
tiful in every respect I ever saw. The country seats 
which surround the town are admirably fine, and most 
delightfully pleasing to the eye of the beholder. I shall 
not attempt any further description of this place at this 
time, my stay being only about three hours. After 
which I continued my journey, and the next place 
which I came to of any considerable note was Calais, 
in the province of Picardy. It lies in lat. 51.6. Ion. 
about 29. E., twenty-tw,o miles S.E. by S. of Dover (in 
England). Between these two ports is the narrowest 
place between France and England, on the English 
Channel. 

Calais is a pretty large town, and well fortified ; the 
buildings mostly of Gothic construction, and a great 
many of them much destroyed with age, and torn to 
pieces. They have here a fine bason, but the entrance 
into it is very narrow and difficult, owing to a bar that 
lies directly across the entrance or mouth of it. No 
vessels of more than a hundred tons burthen can come 
over the bar at high water, and even at spring tides. 
They have here a number of packet boats, which ply 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

between this and Dover in time of peace, for the ac 
commodation of the nobility and gentry, who generally 
pass this way from London to Paris, or from Paris to 
London, as being the nearest route between those cities. 
After tarrying at Calais long enough to take some 
refreshment, and to have the horses shifted, I set off for 
Dunkirk, where I arrived in eight hours, and was soon 
after employed in assisting in fitting for sea the Eclipse 
cutter. Her officers and crew, when ready for sea, con 
sisted of one hundred and ten, and carried 18 six 
pounders, French pieces. We were ready to sail by 
the middle of November, when the cutter was warped 
into the roads of Dunkirk, and all her crew immedi 
ately sent on board. On the night of the 2Oth of No 
vember captain Anthon went on shore, and left direc 
tions with me to take good care of the cutter, keep a 
good look out, and to have a particular eye to every 
thing on board. About 12 o clock at night there came 
on a most violent gale of wind from the N.N.W. and 
which blew directly on shore, and caused a very bad 
sea. We had at the time a pilot on board, who soon 
gave it as his opinion that it would not do to lie much 
longer where we then lay. He therefore directed the 
mainsail to be balance reefed, and the storm jib and 
foresail ready for hoisting at a moments warning. Very 
soon after this the cutter brought home her norther- 
most anchor, and about 2 A.M. she dragged both her 
anchors, and kept on driving towards the shore. We 
now hoisted up the balance mainsail, slipt both cables, 
hoisted up the storm jib and storm foresail, and tried 
to gain an offing; it being now about half flood, so that 
we could not enter Dunkirk pier. In this distress, find 
ing it impossible to get an offing, the wind blew so heavy, 

r.1543 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

with such short sail, we shaped our course for Ostend, 
(a neutral port) bearing from us E.N.E., distance about 
three hours; but it was not without the greatest diffi 
culty that we got over the bar at the pier head on ac 
count of the tide not being up. 

The next day captain Anthon had one of our mer 
chants come on by land and join us, and on the 2^th 
a boat from Dunkirk brought us our cables and anchors 
which we had left at Dunkirk Roads, and the same day 
we were ready for sea again ; but we were obliged to 
lie here a few days longer because of contrary winds. 
Ostend is a very considerable sea port town, lying lat. 
51-20. long. 2.50. East, subject to the emperor of Ger 
many; situated in the Austrian Netherlands, and is one 
of the strongest towns in these parts, and its being at 
this time a neutral port, so that almost all nations carry 
on a regular trade with the inhabitants of this wealthy 
and populous town; and I am told that it grew im 
mensely rich during the last war between the French 
and the English. The town at this time was so over 
stocked with inhabitants, and thronged with strangers 
from different nations, that it was almost impossible to 
procure a meal of victuals at any of the public houses 
in the place (or to buy anything to drink either;) pro 
visions of all kinds being exceeding scarce and dear. I 
paid here for merely an ordinary repast one and .an 
half crowns. While we lay here we lost about half of 
our crew, who deserted from us. 

On the ist of December, in the morning, an English 
cutter, mounting fourteen guns, belonging to the king 
of England, arrived here, and as soon as she knew who 
we were, the captain of her sent his boat on board of us, 
with a challenge to Captain Anthon to meet them with- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

out the bar on the following day. She then sailed and 
stretched out to the place appointed, a considerable 
distance beyond the pier-head, hauled up the jack at 
her mainsail, and her jibsheets to windward, and lay 
to wait for us, as we supposed, after what had passed 
between the two captains; ours having sent an answer 
to the challenge, that he would meet the English cutter 
as soon after she had gone out as permission was 
granted.* She lay in this position, which we could 
plainly discern from the fort at Ostend, until the night 
came on, and we then lost sight of her. On the morn 
ing of the ad, as soon as the tide would serve, we got 
under way and stood off about six leagues from the 
pier-head, but could discover nothing of the swagger 
ing John Englishman. No doubt but the English cut 
ter skulked away in the night, being afraid to meet us; 
this certainly shewed a great deal of wisdom in the 
English, for they must have known that we were an 
over match for them. In fact, they did know it, for 
her first lieutenant, when both cutters lay in the bason 
at Ostend, came on board of us by my invitation, (the 
captain being absent) and we drank a glass or two of 
wine together. He then had an opportunity of seeing 
the number of guns which our cutter carried, and the 
size ; and he also had information as to the number of 
men which we then had. Besides, we had some chat 
together, and he at first declared that they thought 
themselves abundantly able to take us. I told him if 
we did engage that we should then shew them yankee 

* It being war time, no vessel was allowed to depart from the port 
until twenty-four hours after the one which had last sailed had ex 
pired, if they belonged to different nations who were at war with 
each other, and were armed. 

156:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

play for it. He asked me what I meant by that. I re 
plied, that we should board them instantly after ex 
changing broadsides. To which he answered, that in 
that way, he thought the chance in our favor of captur 
ing them, as we had the most men, which were nearly 
all yankees. I found by discoursing with this English 
officer, that his captain had no serious intentions of 
giving us battle. At 1 1 A.M. we boarded a neutral 
packet boat bound from Dover to Ostend. We en 
quired of the people on board of her if they had seen 
any thing of our intended antagonist. They replied, 
that they had not. We then shaped our course for Dun 
kirk Roads, where we arrived at 4 P.M. and moored 
ship. The next day having got a fresh supply of sea 
men, we set sail on a six weeks cruise, against the 
enemies of France and America. On the loth we cap 
tured two vessels under English colours, one of which 
we ransomed for four hundred and seventy guineas, the 
other we manned and sent her to France. The next day 
we fell in with a large English ship, a letter of marque, 
mounting eighteen carriage guns, and carrying forty 
five officers and seamen, besides thirteen passengers, 
men and women; and after a bloody action, which 
lasted three quarters of an hour, she struck to us. We 
had just got possession of her, when the weather, which 
had been thick for some time, lighted up, and behold! 
an English frigate was then nearly within gun shot of 
us. She had, no doubt, been directed that way by the 
noise of the cannon in the action. We were therefore, 
without losing a moment s time, forced to abandon our 
prize, and take to our heels, which at the time were 
pretty clean, and we crowded all sail from the frigate. 
In about one hour thereafter we found we out-sailed 

D571 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

her considerable; and she, after chasing us four hours, 
and finding she fell astern of us fast, abandoned the 
chase and hauled upon the wind, after taking in her 
light sails. After this we steered for the Land s End, 
where we arrived on the i^th of December, and the 
same day we took two sloops, which we ransomed. Also 
captured a large English brigantine, on board of which 
we put a prize master and men, and ordered her for 
France. She was richly laden with dry goods and other 
articles. The next day at meridian the weather cleared 
off, and we saw a ship close aboard of us, and soon after 
discovered her to be a frigate. Made sail from her and 
she gave chase to us, and continued it until about 4 
P.M. when she gave us a bow chase, the shot of which 
carried away our topmast just above the upper with. 
She was now chasing us before the wind; and after this 
accident the ship gained upon us fast. Night now came 
on apace, and being close to the English shore, we at 
once took in our light sails, and hauled close upon the 
wind. The ship did the same; but we now found we 
could out-sail her, and at nine at night we lost sight of 
her, and the next day we put into Cherbourg, hauled 
into the bason, and gave our privateer a clean bottom. 
The port of Cherbourg is upon the English channel, 
in the province of Normandy, in the French dominions. 
It is a very excellent harbour for men of war, except 
when the wind blows from the Northward. It lies in 
lat. 50.00. N. and long. 25 minutes W. It is a pretty 
large town, the buildings which appear to have been 
once very elegant, and the architecture good, but they 
appear now to be going to decay. The bason is a spa 
cious one, and at high tides it will contain twenty men 
of war, and in which at that time of tide there is about 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

twenty-four feet of water. Vessels which warp into the 
bason in order to clean or grave their bottoms, may lie 
with safety at the head of the bason, where they are 
nearly dry at low water, and at the full tide we warped 
her out into the Roads. 

The dry dock here, which has cost government a 
large sum of money, is nearly finished. It has been 
constructed on purpose for the conveniency of ships of 
war only. The Roads off Cherbourg are bleak and 
open, and much exposed to gales of wind from the 
Northward, as I have already noticed; however, it is 
more than probable that the French will make an ex 
cellent harbour here in time of the Roads, as there now 
are, and have been for some years past, several thou 
sand people employed by government, together with 
great numbers of flat bottomed boats, waggons, carts, 
&c. &c. in order to effect this grand object. They have 
already by a mole, formed a kind of half moon, ex 
tending from the Western shore out into the Roads, 
where there is about seven fathoms of water, the bot 
tom of which is excellent for anchorage ; so that several 
ships of war may ride with safety under this new made 
land in almost any wind that blows. 

Should they once complete what they now have in 
view, and which I have but little doubt of, so that a 
fleet of their ships of the line might anchor and lie here 
with perfect security in any weather, they will in that 
case annoy the English amazingly in time of war. 

There is a strong fortress at about two leagues from 
the entrance of the bason, founded upon an island (al 
most a solid bed of rock.) This commands the roads 
completely; besides, the fortifications upon the island, 
when the harbour is finished, will be directly at the en- 

D593 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

trance, so that the French here will be under no appre 
hension of the English making a descent or attacking 
the town as they have frequently done in years past. 
The English have no safe seaport along (upon the 
channel) Eastward of Portsmouth for a fleet of their 
ships of war. It is true, they often anchor in the Downs, 
but it is a bleak dangerous place to lie, and where they 
are exposed to almost every wind that blows. Whereas 
Cherbourg harbour lies upon the channel, about mid 
way between Portsmouth and the Downs. This will 
give the French, when their harbour in question is com 
pleted, a very superior advantage over their enemies, 
when war happens between these two great maritime 
powers. 

I had the pleasure to see in this place the celebrated 
captain Manly, (who was well known in the United 
States, the first part of our Revolutionary war, as a sea 
captain, from several very important captures which 
he made of English vessels, loaded with such kind of 
articles as was at the time much wanted in the Ameri 
can army.) He had just arrived in Cherbourg, with 
several other Americans who had recently made their 
escape from Mill prison in England, where they had 
been confined about three years. They were without 
money or clothes, except what they had upon their 
backs, and which were very shabby. I gave them some 
money; and to captain Manly, I was happy to have it 
in my power to comply with a request which he made 
to me, and which was to advance him one hundred and 
fifty dollars in cash; and for which sum he gave me his 
draft upon Mr. Williams, an American, then resident 
in Nantz, payable in two months, and which was after 
wards duly honored. My heart swelled with joy, in 

160;] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the little pittance which I was enabled to afford my 
countrymen; and this single transaction I reflected 
upon afterwards with much pleasing satisfaction; al 
though the reader may think it wears somewhat the 
appearance of vanity on my part in mentioning it, (be 
it even so) which however, was not my intention. 

On the 23d we set sail in order to continue our cruise ; 
and on the day following fell in with an English 
frigate, which chased us about six hours, and having 
sprung a leak in the chase, we put back to Cherbourg. 
Two days were employed in stopping the leak, &c. We 
put to sea again after this, and shaped our course once 
more for the Land s End, and were chased every day 
until the first of January, when we fell in with an Eng 
lish letter of marque mounting twelve carriage guns. 
She at first made a kind of running fight of it; when 
orders were given to lay her aboard, which we did, and 
in doing this, the people on board of the ship quit their 
quarters and stowed themselves in the hold. The cap 
tain of her, as soon as he saw our men on board of his 
vessel, dowsed the British flag, and yielded her to us. 
She was from Plymouth, in England, and bound to St. 
Kitts, in the West Indies. She had at the commence 
ment of the action thirty-five officers, men, and boys. 
She had four men killed and seven wounded. We had 
only two men slightly wounded. She was richly laden 
with English goods. We put a prize master on board 
of her, and secured them on board of the privateer, she 
was ordered for Brest. On the 3d there sprung up a 
heavy gale of wind from the W.S.W. to South, which 
lasted until the izth following, and for the most part 
of the time (we had our carriage guns in the hold, they 
having been shut down in the first part of the gale) 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

we could not suffer any other sail but a reefed foresail. 
We were notwithstanding obliged when the wind 
abated any at different times, to get the storm foresail 
and jib upon our cutter, in order to clew off the English 
land, which we could plainly see at no great distance 
whenever the weather would clear off for a few mo 
ments. In this gale of wind a great number of Eng 
lish vessels were driven on shore, the most of which 
and their crews were lost. We counted in sailing along 
the English coast upwards of thirty wrecks. On the 
1 3th, the weather being moderate, we took an English 
brig laden with sea coal; manned her and sent her for 
France. And on the I4th we put into Morlaix to refit 
and to recruit our men. We had got ready to sail on 
the 20th, but the wind remaining contrary, we did not 
sail till the middle of February, when we made a 
stretch over near the English land; where, when we 
arrived, we found the English coast so much lined with 
English cruisers that it was very difficult for us to cap 
ture any prizes and get off without their being retaken. 
After being chased by frigates and other cruisers, su 
perior in point of force to our privateer, from the time 
in which we sailed from Morlaix till the 6th of March, 
we arrived at Dunkirk, with a large ship as a prize, 
which we took off Dover, under English colours, bound 
from Ireland to Norway, laden principally with Irish 
linens. Our privateer was disarmed, and the officers 
and crew were discharged. The owners of the same 
privateer now offered me the command of her, which 
I accepted of; and men were immediately employed 
in refitting her for another cruise. 

In the mean time, I took a trip to London, having 
now plenty of money; having some time before this 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

been naturalized, and made a French subject of Mor- 
laix. I had also letters of credit from my merchants in 
Dunkirk, upon Messrs. Charles and Edward Hague, 
of London, to the amount of fifteen hundred guineas. 
I told my merchants that I should travel incog. ; that I 
had some private business to transact in that city, and 
that it was probable I might hear of something while 
there, that might turn to their advantage, by frequent 
ing the coffee-houses; if I tarried longer than what I 
expected to do in that city, I advised them to give the 
command of the privateer which I had accepted of, 
to some other person, but if they should see fit to wait 
for my return, I should be very glad to take charge of 
their interest. They therefore, after having exacted of 
me my parole, promised that no other person should 
obtain from them the command of the Eclipse but my 
self, provided that I was ready upon the spot in Dun 
kirk by the middle of May. 

In the middle of March I set out for London upon 
this secret business; at night I arrived at Ostend, thirty 
three miles by land from Dunkirk, and engaged a pas 
sage for Dover, with the master of one of the neutral 
packet boats. The next day I embarked on board and 
we set sail for Dover with a fair wind, which carried 
us to this place in about ten hours. Arriving in the port 
along side of the quay, the custom-house officers came 
on board, and began rummaging and searching the 
passengers baggage. This alarmed me, as I was sensi 
ble that it would not do to have mine (particularly at 
this time) very closely examined; and therefore I slipt 
a guinea into the hand of one of these officers, who was 
in the act of searching and overhauling my baggage; 
on feeling the yellow shiner, (which always has a 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

powerful effect in these cases,) he desisted from any 
further examination. And seeing the rest of his com 
rades busily engaged in searching the other passengers 
effects, he gave my portmanteau, &c. to a porter who 
was standing by, and bade him carry it to the next inn. 
For, said he, the gentleman is in a great hurry. He 
then gave me the wink to follow; (which I felt my 
self very willing to do, as I was then fearful some one 
of the other custom-house officers might take it into his 
head to search my baggage.) Arriving at the inn, I 
paid the porter, and drank a few glasses of porter with 
the custom-house officer. I hired a post chaise and set 
off for London, and in about two hours after leaving 
Dover, I reached the famous city of Canterbury. There 
I tarried till the next day, and went to see this ancient 
cathedral, which is of a Gothic construction, and it is 
said covers more ground of itself than St. Paul s in 
London. The window glass inside is most beautifully 
painted with variegated colours, and far exceeds any 
thing of the kind I ever saw. In the inside of this 
Gothic structure are also to be seen several marble 
statues, representing some of the ancient kings of Kent, 
as also several which represent some who have been 
bishops of the city, and which, I was here told, was 
founded in the year 589, by one Ethelbert, who at that 
time was king of the (now) county of Kent. But I was 
told that the cathedral was nearly twelve hundred years 
old, by the person who was my guide or conductor 
to this magnificent pile of buildings. While I was 
here there was a large concourse of people entered the 
city, who had been to see some English sailors hanged 
at or near Deptford, upon the river Thames. Part of 
this company put up at the same inn where I then 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

lodged, and who related this singular transaction to 
the landlord and others. They said that these poor 
sailors were brought from the place where they had 
been confined, under an escort of horse and foot to the 
place of execution; that there were eleven in number; 
that they were marched from the shore upon a kind of 
wooden floating machine, when they were all put into 
irons fitted for the purpose, and affixed to their bodies, 
legs and arms, in such a manner that they could not 
bend either; a halter was then put round each of their 
necks. This done, the floating platform was towed off 
from the shore under a gallows, which it seems had 
been erected by the orders for that express purpose, 
and where there was about twenty-five feet of water. 
The floating machine, with the criminals and hang 
men upon it, was towed under the gallows precisely 
at high water.* The hangmen then put each halter 
over the gallows and made them fast, and left the 
criminals to die at their leisure, or as the tide fell, to 
die by inches. This mode of punishment was certainly 
new, and deserves to be noticed, being as singular as it 
is barbarous. This is also another species of British 
humanity, so much boasted of by Britons and their ad 
herents, in the United States and elsewhere. The poor 
criminals, hanged as before described, were most of 
them nearly four hours in dying, and their screeches, 
groans, and cries were heard for some miles from the 
tragic scene. The landlord informed me that this was 
the kind of punishment which was inflicted upon every 
man and boy who were taken by the English under 
the American or French flags, if they had ever been 

*The tide ebbs and flows in the river Thames about twenty-two 
feet. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

in the British navy or army, and proved to have been 
British subjects, whether they had deserted or not; and 
that these kind of executions had taken place frequently 
upon the river Thames. Such kind of conduct as this, 
on the part of the British, rather exceeds their treatment 
of the American prisoners on board of the Old Jersey 
at New- York, or the glass plot in Forton prison, which 
I have already related. Now, when all these trans 
actions relative to the cruelties of the British towards 
their fellow creatures, without taking into the account 
their numerous barbarities in other places (besides 
New- York) in the United States, are held up to view, 
I defy any one to produce any thing in history, ancient 
or modern, in point of barbarity and cruelty, which has 
a parallel in any other nation, civil, or even in a state 
of nature. After having paid my landlord, I was about 
stepping into the chaise, in order to continue my jour 
ney, when he begged to speak to me privately. When 
we had gone into a private room and were alone, he 
asked me if I was provided with guineas. I did not 
comprehend his meaning and therefore desired him to 
explain himself, which he did as follows. I perceive, 
Sir, that you are a stranger; if so, are not you appre 
hensive of being robbed upon the road between this 
place and London? For, continued he, there are a 
great number of highway robbers on that road ; and as 
there have been several people, and that within a few 
days too, robbed on the road, even in carriages, and in 
the day time; therefore, said he, (shewing me a purse 
of guineas at the same time) if you will purchase these 
counterfeits,* you may avoid being robbed of your 

* These were well executed, and would, I believe, pass with igno 
rant people for genuine ones. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

genuine guineas, by presenting these to whomsoever 
attacks you. I was at first a little startled at the fellow s 
proposition, and intelligence respecting the highway 
men; I was in fact at a loss what to do. I knew if I 
purchased these counterfeit guineas, and should be de 
tected with these found upon me, being an entire 
stranger in these parts, the officers of justice might com 
mit me to prison upon suspicion; and where they would 
have it in their power of accusing me of being a spy, 
and one who had been sent from France into England, 
for the purpose of circulating false guineas. But on 
the other hand, I knew that a greater evil could not 
befall me at the time than that of being robbed which 
would inevitably have been the cause of my being be 
trayed. Upon the whole, I ventured to purchase of the 
landlord twenty of these counterfeits for a couple of 
crowns, and then continued my journey towards Lon 
don, and on my way I passed through Roxbury, a large 
populous town, and came to the entrance of a large 
tract of land, overgrown with bushes, nearly as high 
as a man s breast, and very thick. This, I was told, 
they called Black Heath; and where I was attacked by 
two men, very elegantly dressed, and well mounted 
upon very handsome horses (both of them wore at the 
time masks upon their faces,) one of which ordered me 
to deliver my purse, the other caught hold of the reins 
of the bridle of the foremost horses, and threatened to 
shoot the driver if he offered to stir an inch further. 
Being in the act of feeling for my counterfeits, there 
appeared just ahead of us a coach and six, accompanied 
by several gentlemen on horse back. The villains per 
ceiving these people, quit us without their booty, clapt 
spurs to their horses, and rode off upon the gallop, 

c 167:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

struck out of the main road, leaped several ditches and 
fences, and were soon out of sight. I soon after passed 
the coach and six and concluded that it belonged to an 
English nobleman, as I saw some of the persons who 
followed after it dressed in livery. 

Most of the gentlemen who were mounted on horse 
back, and who appeared to be escorting the said coach, 
were armed each with a hanger or sword, and a pair of 
pistols. This retinue appeared to the gentlemen high 
waymen to be too formidable for them, which was the 
reason, no doubt, of their going off in such a precipitate 
manner. I was so near the city of London now (say 
nine miles) that I could see the steeples above a black 
cloud of smoke in which the city is constantly enveloped 
when there is but little wind, owing it is said, to the 
citizens burning such large quantities of sea coal in 
the city. I could at the same time observe the spire of 
St. Paul s Church, soaring considerably above the rest. 
On the 1 8th, at 4 P.M. I arrived in the famous city of 
London, and took private lodgings at the sign of the 
White Bear, in Picadilly-street. The next day I waited 
upon the gentlemen to whom my letters of credit were 
addressed, Messrs. Charles and Edward Hague,* mer 
chants, living in Fen-Church-street; and the latter of 
fered me every assistance that was in his power while I 
remained in the city. 

I found that where I lodged an uncle of mine put up, 
who was then a colonel in the British army in America; 
and as I did not like to meet him, I changed my lodg 
ings, and afterwards I put up at a private house not far 
from St. Paul s. While I remained in the city I made 

* Charles, the former partner in trade with Edward, had been dead 
some years, but notwithstanding, the firm was still kept up. 

1:1683 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

it a custom to visit the coffee-houses, where I heard 
much said by British officers about the Americans gen 
erally. At one of these houses I heard a British officer, 
who by his military dress and apaulets upon his shoul 
ders, I took to be a colonel ; and who by his conversa 
tion with another officer, had served in the British army 
in America, for upwards of four years; but had then a 
furlow for a few months. He valued himself a good 
deal upon taking the poor yankees off, (as he called it) 
in their manner of speaking. I recollect, said he, a 
person who arrived in Boston about the time that the 
rebels were collecting their forces near this town, and 
where I then was, who had got permission to come into 
town; and who told me that the main road leading 
from New- York to Boston was covered with men, 
marching on in an Indian file to join the rebel forces 
under the command of the rebel general Washington. 
Those men, thus on their march, were what they called 
the militia; some of whom were clothed in rags, with a 
knapsack, or something like it, on their backs, and each 
had an old rusty musket upon their shoulders some of 
which the gentleman observed, had no locks to them; 
and some of these men would carry their muskets, the 
but end of them uppermost or in the air, where the 
muzzle ought to be; with the gun resting sometimes 
upon the right, and sometimes upon their left shoulder; 
and these men were frequently several rods from each 
other. The gentleman in question, to have a little di 
version, would accost them in a familiar way, in this 
manner: To one, Well, my lad, where are you going? 
Whose answer would be: Why, to Boston, to fight the 
enemi where do you think? you tarnal tory-curse you 
maple log roll over you the old tyke take you, &c. 

D693 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

I vow you, brother Jonathan, (addressing himself to 
one of his comrades) do nt you think this clean faced 
Englishman is a cursed tory, &c. The gentleman 
would pass on to the next, and so on, putting the same 
question to each, and they would answer him in the 
same way. Now, says the colonel to the other British 
officer, to whom he was directing his discourse, and 
who it seems had never been in America, what think 
you of such kind of fellows as have been described to 
you, the American army being at present made up with 
these kind of men? I say, (by the by) continued he, 
who could have believed that these naked, half paid, 
half starved, bare footed, rebels, would ever have dared 
to face out regular, well fed, well paid, and well 
clothed troops? Most certain, replied the other officer, 
I never did believe it, and more, I never shall. It is too 
true, my friend, replied the colonel; they have often 
done it; and besides I could mention a number of in 
stances where the rebels have fairly beaten out our 
troops, and where our numbers were equal to theirs, 
and sometimes superior. And this you may rest as 
sured of as an absolute fact, that a regiment of these 
yankee troops, will always beat a regiment of British 
troops, provided that each regiment, British and Amer 
ican, consist of an equal number of officers and soldiers; 
especially when the contest gets to that pitch, when it 
becomes necessary to decide it at the point of the 
bayonet. This is true, said the colonel. I have had 
sufficient experience of it; I had enough of this sort of 
yankee play at Bunker Hill. He then opened his bosom 
and shewed his friend where he had been wounded in 
that battle. He then told the officer (who had never 
been in America) that he had seen enough of the 

i: 170:3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

bravery of the Americans; so much so, said he, that I 
am determined after my furlow is out, if the govern 
ment orders me to join my regiment again in America, 
to resign my commission. For, continued the colonel, 
we shall never be able, with all our fleet and armies, to 
conquer the Americans, (hush, said his friend) I do nt 
care, replied the colonel, who hears me, this is my 
opinion, and I will maintain it even in the presence of 
the ministry themselves. 

The colonel and his friend soon after left the room, 
and I entered this interesting conversation in one of the 
pages of my pocket book, which will have a tendency, 
among numbers of a similar kind, to show that a great 
number of British officers, both in their navy and army 
at this time, were of a like opinion. It certainly, in my 
opinion, indicated an approaching peace between Great 
Britain and the United States. I used to frequent this 
coffee-house, where I heard my countrymen taken off, 
and was amused with more yankee stories than I had 
ever heard related in my own country; and at times I 
have been so much diverted with them that I have 
nearly burst my sides with laughter. 

My particular business which I had with Messrs. C. 
and E. H. I closed, and after tarrying in London about 
three weeks, without being able to complete my other 
affairs, I set off for Dunkirk, and travelled back the 
same rout on which I came, and on the 8th of April I 
arrived there. The next day the gentlemen who had 
sent me on the expedition to London, assembled at the 
Town house; gave me new instructions, together with 
several letters from the court of France, to Lord Shel- 
burne, Stormont, and Kepple, &c. The purport of 
these were, some proposals of peace, and some pro- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

posals to the English court, for the liberation of the 
unfortunate capt. L. Ryan and McCarter, who were 
Irishmen, but had both commanded privateers in the 
French service, when they captured a great number of 
English vessels, and were at last both taken by the Eng 
lish, and were then confined at Newgate under sentence 
of death, on account of their having been British sub 
jects, and were taken under French colours. They had 
(however, since the sentence was passed upon them) 
both been respited twice; and the French court now 
appeared to interest themselves in saving the lives of 
these two captains; partly on account of their being 
lieutenants in the French navy, and partly on account 
of their having rendered great and important services 
to France. 

I left Dunkirk once more on the 9th in the morning, 
and proceeded on my journey for London, passed 
through Ostend, took passage there in a neutral packet 
boat, and arrived at Dover on the loth at 5 A.M. Here 
again the custom-house officers attempted to search my 
baggage, but which I avoided by telling them that I 
was a messenger of peace sent by the French ; as a proof 
of this I shewed them the addresses of the letters al 
ready mentioned. On seeing these, and begging them 
not to detain me, as my business required the utmost 
secrecy and dispatch, they instantly released me and my 
baggage, believing no doubt, every word which I had 
told them to be true. I therefore sent immediately and 
procured a post chaise, set out for London, and arrived 
there in a little more than four hours, and soon enough 
to save the lives of the unfortunate Ryan and Mc 
Carter, who were to have been hanged the next day. 
I delivered the letters which I had been charged with, 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

to the persons to whom they were directed (in their be 
half.) A reprieve was granted them, and they soon 
after recovered their liberty. I remained in the city 
several days incog., and then got a kind of protection 
signed by Lords Stormont and Way. After this I ap 
peared in a public manner. I was examined before a 
lord Mansfield, relative to a number of ransom bills, 
which it seems had been sent to Messrs. Charles and 
Edward Hague for collecting. His lordship asked 
me if I was a French subject, and whether I had seen 
the signatures placed or affixed to these bills ; to which 
questions I replied in the affirmative, after being put 
under oath. The amount of the said bills were after 
wards paid, as I was informed, by the gentlemen to 
whom they had been sent for collection. 

I now had leisure time and went to see the natural 
and artificial curiosities which abound in the city. First 
my inclination led me to the Tower, where I gained ad 
mittance by giving a person half a guinea who was at 
the gates, and who was said to be one of the king s 
pages. I observed that his coat (the ground work) 
was red and almost covered with gold lace. Another 
person, after I had entered the Tower, undertook to 
conduct me round, and to shew me everything that my 
inclination wished to see. He first led me into a large 
spacious hall, where I saw the statues, both men and 
horses, as large as life, representing all the kings of Eng 
land, from Alfred the great, in succession down to his 
present majesty; some of whom had been kings of 
Great Britain after the kingdom of Scotland had been 
annexed to England, all on horseback, and which are 
of steel, and always kept admirably bright. Likewise, 
I here saw a statue of Queen Elizabeth (by the sudden 

173:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

drawing up of a curtain at the farther end of the hall) 
and an elegant horse, handsomely decorated with 
bridle, saddle, &c. and a British grenadier as large as 
life, is represented as holding the reins of the bridle in 
one hand, and in the other he holds his cap, and ap 
pears to be bending towards her majesty, who appears 
to have just descended from her horse, and lodged the 
reins of the bridle in the hands of the grenadier. These 
figures are made of wax. The queen is superbly 
dressed; the whole being, as I was told, an exact repre 
sentation at the time the queen arrived at Portsmouth, 
and the moment she received the certain news of the 
total defeat and ruin of the grand Spanish Armada. 
The last statues or figures are pronounced to be by most 
foreign connossieurs, as well as natives of England who 
have seen them, a master piece. I was next conducted 
into a very large hall said to be three hundred feet 
long, and one hundred broad, and which my conductor 
informed me contained one hundred and twenty thou 
sand small arms, besides several thousand bayonets, 
pistols, &c. This room, said he, has been emptied three 
times during the bloody rebel war in America, and 
how many more times it will be emptied, continued he, 
before the war will be at an end, God only knows. 
There are here kept constantly employed about one 
hundred men, to keep these arms, &c. bright and clean. 
In the next place I was shewn many trophies of victory 
(the Englishman s boast,) taken from the French, 
Dutch, and Spaniards, &c., some very rich and mag 
nificent pavilions, or standards, formerly belonging to 
these powers. I was afterwards shewn his majesty s 
regalia, besides many other curious and valuable 
things; to give a description of each would, I fear, tire 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the patience of the reader. The following may per 
haps suffice, viz. the imperial crown, that all the kings 
of England have been crowned with, from the time of 
Edward the confessor, down to the present king. The 
orb or globe, held in the king s left hand at the corona 
tion, on the top of which is a jewel near an inch and a 
half in height, of inestimable worth. The royal sceptre, 
with the dove, the emblem of peace. St. Edward s 
Curtana,* or the sworcl of mercy, borne between the 
two swords of justice, spiritual and temporal. A noble 
silver font, double gilt, out of which the royal family 
are christened. A silver fountain, presented to king 
Charles the II. by the town of Plymouth. The prince 
of Wales crown. Queen Mary s crown, globe and 
scepter, with the diadem she wore in proceeding to her 
coronation. The ampulla or eagle of gold, which 
holds the holy oil, which the kings and queens of Eng 
land are annointed with ; and the golden spoon, that 
the bishop pours the oil into, and which are great pieces 
of antiquity. The rich crown of state, which his majesty 
wears on his throne in parliament, in which is a large 
emerald seven inches round. A pearl, the finest and 
richest in the world, and a ruby of inestimable value. 
All the above mentioned articles were shewn to me by 
a woman, by candle light, each of which I handled by 
putting my right hand through an iron grate, as I was 
not permitted to go into the room or vault where these 
articles were deposited. The last things which were 
shewn me by this woman, were several small towers, 
cities, &c. in miniature, and made by a lady of distinc- 

*An old rusty sword with one edge to it. It has a leather scab 
bard and is of ancient construction; worth in my estimation about 
three shillings sterling. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

tion, while she was a prisoner in the Tower a number 
of years. These last were of the most admirable work 
manship. I was also shewn a great variety of shells, 
taken from the sea shore, remarkably curious, besides a 
great many kinds of wild beasts, birds, &c. brought 
from foreign countries. Among the last was an eagle 
of a gray colour, about five feet high, and large in pro 
portion to its height, which my conductor told me had 
been within the walls of the Tower nearly one hundred 
years. After seeing all that was curious at the Tower, 
I went to the British Museum, (so called) where there 
are a great number of figures of wax work to be seen of 
different sizes, and in different positions. I must 
acknowledge that at first view of them they appeared to 
have life in them. On one side was seen a woman as 
large as life, seated in an elegant chair, in the act of 
suckling an infant, both beautiful beyond description. 
On the opposite side of the room, was seen a young 
man upon his knees in a most supplicating manner, at 
the feet of a young lady (representing as his mistress;) 
the former of which, in this humble posture, address 
ing, (or is made to appear so) the idol of his heart, in 
the most pathetic manner (at least with his eyes, which 
generally is allowed to speak the language of the 
heart.) Here are also to be seen infants preserved in 
some kind of spirituous liquors, who were taken out of 
their mother s womb, and appeared as animated as 
when first extracted from thence. I was shewn one of 
these not more than six inches long, and which the 
surgeon, who often attends here, declared to be no more 
than five weeks, from the time the operation was per 
formed, of extracting it from its mother, to the time 
when it was formed. This, however, I did not believe. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

I was next led by curiosity, to pay a visit to West 
minster Abbey where I saw many statues and other 
curiosities, far beyond my weak capacity of describing. 
After this I went to Spring Gardens, where I saw a 
giant, who was pronounced to be eight feet two inches 
high, by some persons who had just measured him as I 
entered the apartment where he was. He was well 
proportioned as to his body, legs and features, and 
which coincided with his height. He was genteely 
dressed, with a superfine broad cloth red coloured coat, 
white buff vest and breeches, white silk stockings, with 
shoes and buckles; and wore a black cocked hat, in 
which was a black cockade; and he had much the ap 
pearance, especially in his walking, of a military gentle 
man. I asked him a number of questions, to which he 
gave pertinent answers, in quite a polite manner. He 
told me that he was twenty-three years of age, was born 
in Ireland, where he had been liberally educated,* that 
his parents were poor working people, and that they 
were not larger than the common size. 

While in this city I made it a custom to pass the 
evenings either at Covent-Garden, Drury-Lane, Ash 
ley s Riding-School, or at the Opera in the Hay- 
Market. I was one night at the latter place, when his 
present majesty entered. The spectators ushered his 
arrival into the house with a general hissing and loud 
fits of laughter. This surprised me the more, when the 
Prince of Wales shortly after entered with two lords 
in waiting, was received with shouts of applause, and a 
pretty general echo of the word bravo; which is a word 

*His education, by his own story, was at the expence of a certain 
Irish lord, and to whom the giant is under obligation to reimburse 
after he shall have made the tour of Europe. 

177:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

that signifies that the performers have acted their parts 
well ; and which I have often heard pronounced by the 
parture, (the pit) in France. 

Mr. Hague was so generous as to present me with a 
family ticket for the play, every night when I had an 
inclination to go to Covent-Garden theatre; and with 
which I could always gain admittance there, either in 
the pit or boxes, without its costing me anything. 
(This was a silver plate of an oval form, about two 
inches over, with his name engraven on it.) As I under 
stood by him he paid the managers of that theatre by 
the year, and which I found practised by numerous 
heads of families in the city. 

On the night of the loth of May I set out from West 
minster, and crossed the bridge of that name, which is 
a noble and grand piece of architecture. The other two 
bridges a little lower down the river Thames, called 
London, and Blackf riars, are not to be compared with 
the fine bridge of Westminster. After having crossed 
this last, I was most delightfully pleased with two rows 
of lamps, both in a straight line, extending along each 
side of the road which leads over this large and elegant 
bridge for two miles distance from it. I sometimes 
took occasional walks upon St. James s park, where I 
frequently saw the royal family exercising in walking 
on foot. The king, upon these occasions was dressed 
quite plain, and some of the princesses were not known 
by strangers from any other women of quality. In fact, 
I noticed that the maids of honour to the queen were 
more elegantly dressed here than the princesses. I 
thought these last to be very ordinary, or far from being 
handsome women. 

I was once at Whitehall, (the king s palace) on pur- 

[1783 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

pose to see his majesty, and waited some time in a large 
hall, through which the king was to pass on his way to 
hear some divine service performed in his chapel, but 
a small distance from the palace. There were a large 
crowd of people gathered together out of curiosity to 
see their king. At length he passed very close to me, 
accompanied by several lords in waiting, some of whom 
cried out, Make room for his majesty to pass; at this 
the crowd gave way upon each side, and the king 
walked on between them. I saw several of these people 
kneel when he was near them, and attempt to present 
him (each one) with a paper folded up, which I sup 
posed to have been petitions to his majesty; one of the 
lords in waiting received these petitions from the hands 
of those who presented them, but neither the king or 
his lords made any stop, but continued on through the 
hall nearly as fast as they could walk. I at that mo 
ment, thought of my country, the people of which are 
without a king; and I hope they may never be cursed 
with one, with all the leaches of royalty surrounding 
the throne, (as is here the case) and consuming with 
greedy appetites the hard earnings of the people. O, 
my country! Thou art yet happy, compared to Old 
England, the subjects of which are at this day, (with 
but few exceptions,) in a state of abject slavery: the 
spoutings and trumpetings for royalty, to the contrary 
notwithstanding. The king, so much adored by the 
people of England, is a mere clumsy made man, with 
round shoulders, and a great head, which, as the Eng 
lish themselves say, is not over stocked with good sense; 
and I observed that there was not anything in his coun 
tenance which is significant, or that commanded re 
spect. The queen, on the contrary, appeared to have 

D793 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

much more of a physiognomy to draw the attention of 
those who surrounded her; and was generally spoken 
well of by the subjects of their majesties; and I have no 
doubt but she was once a tolerable handsome woman. 
The prince of Wales is also a handsome figure of a 
man, and a great lover of the fair sex. I also visited the 
house of parliament, where I heard several speeches of 
the celebrated orator Charles Fox, Esq. and who was 
at this time idolized by the people of England, and I 
noticed that he was toasted oftener than the king, in all 
companies where I had supped, or dined; some of 
whom were of the first quality of the city. At this time 
particularly, he was a strenuous advocate for the liber 
ties of the United States, and which was plainly to be 
seen in his speeches, even upon the floor of parliament. 
I heard him say in this place, That the best way to rec 
oncile the Americans to the people of Great Britain 
was, for the British ministry to declare them inde 
pendent, and open a free trade with them at once; and 
by this step they would have the honour and glory of 
bringing about a lasting and sincere friendship between 
the two nations. These are, as near as I can recollect, 
his words. 

I remained in London about four weeks this time, 
and then took my departure for France. I passed 
through Roxbury, and from thence to Dover; where I 
heard several people at the inn where I put up say, that 
there would be peace soon; and having no inclination 
to dispute with them on that score, I walked down 
upon the quay, and found a neutral packet boat ready 
to sail for Ostend; on board of which I embarked with 
my baggage, and she set sail, and in about ten or twelve 
hours after our departure I was landed in the latter 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

place, where I hired a post chaise, and at 9 at night I 
arrived at Dunkirk. 

On the I2th of May, 1782, I was invested with the 
command of the Eclipse cutter privateer, the same in 
which I had sailed in with captain Anthon, as second 
captain, carrying eighteen French six pounders, 
mounted on carriages; and her officers and crew con 
sisted of one hundred and ten. Her crew were made 
up of different nations, viz. French, English, Irish, 
Dutch, Americans, (about fifty- five) Italians, Ger 
mans, Flemenders, Maltese, Genoese, Turks, Tunis 
ians, Algerines, &c. &c. almost all of which spoke either 
French or English. 

The manner of fitting out privateers in this part of 
the country deserves particular notice. The common 
practice is this: The owners of privateers advance large 
sums of money to the officers and crew, before the pri 
vateer sails on her intended cruise, viz. to a captain 
forty-five guineas; to a second captain thirty-five 
guineas ; to each of the lieutenants twenty-five guineas ; 
to the gunner, boatswain, sailing master, and carpenter, 
fifteen guineas each; and so on for other petty officers, 
in proportion to their rank on board. To each sailor 
ten guineas; to each mariner five guineas; to each or 
dinary seaman five guineas, &c. &c. These different 
sums of money are advanced by the owners of every 
privateer fitted out in France, to the officers and crews 
before sailing, as a kind of bounty. The advances enu 
merated as above, are for a six weeks cruise; and the 
sums are raised to the officers and crews, if the priva 
teers to which they belong should be bound on a longer 
cruise. All these sums, however, are deducted from 
their prize money, after the cruise shall have been fin- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

ished. If no prizes are taken during the same, or not 
enough when sold to amount to the sums so advanced, 
the said officers and crews are not liable to refund to 
the owners the monies, which they may have received, 
or any part thereof. 

On the 6th of June we got under way, the wind then 
being at W.S.W. and stood to the Northward for the 
coast of Scotland. On the loth we captured an Eng 
lish brigantine, laden with sea coal, put a prize master 
and crew on board of her, and ordered her for Dun 
kirk. After which we ran a large sloop on shore near 
Scarborough, which we made an attempt to get off, but 
in this we did not succeed ; we then set her on fire. The 
next day we captured two large coasting sloops, and 
sunk them, after taking out the crews and putting them 
on board of the privateer. On the i^th, captured a 
large English ship off Buchaness, (and finding that she 
was valuable, being laden principally with Irish linens, 
besides other effects) on board of which we put a prize 
master and fifteen men, and ordered her for Dunkirk. 
On the 1 6th towards night, made the Orkney Islands, 
which lie to the Northward of Scotland, in about 60 
deg. of N. lat. and in long. io.2O.W. On the lyth, sent 
my boat on shore, and demanded some fresh provisions 
and vegetables, of the magistrates of a small town on 
one of these Islands, in the name of John Dyon, captain 
of his majesty s cutter the Surprize. About 10 A.M. 
the boat returned on board with a quantity of fresh pro 
visions, &c. At 4 P..M. several boats from the shore 
came alongside with several natives in them, whom we 
could scarcely understand a word they said. At 5 P.M. 
we obtained a pilot on board, and agreed with him to 
pilot us into a port called Hopes Bay. At 6 P.M. came 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

to anchor in the aforesaid Bay. Here I received in 
telligence that several vessels were expected about this 
time from Quebec with furs, &c. and that it was more 
than probable they would be without a convoy, as it 
was a rare thing, the inhabitants informed me, to see a 
French privateer in these seas. 

The greater part of my crew at this time were either 
Americans, or those who could speak English; I there 
fore kept the pilot on board, and ordered all such as 
could speak that language, to be confined in the hold. 
This done, I laid an embargo on seven sail vessels lying 
in this port. After which, I lay here several days wait 
ing for the Quebec fleet; during which time none of the 
inhabitants suspected my being an enemy. On the 2j\h 
at 2 P.M. there was a report brought me by some of my 
officers who had come on board from the shore, that 
there were two English vessels back of the Island, and 
that they appeared to be standing round this Island to 
gain the harbour where we were. On hearing this, I 
went aloft, from whence, with a spy-glass, I could 
plainly perceive a large ship, which had the appear 
ance of a frigate of twenty-eight guns, and a cutter 
mounting fourteen guns, both having English colours 
flying; and I was the more confident that they were 
enemies, as I could see that the cutter s sails set quite 
different from those of her size belonging to the French 
nation. In this state of perplexity I was somewhat at a 
loss to know what was best to do first; for I was sensible 
that no time was to be lost. However, having learned 
of the pilot, that these warlike vessels could not enter 
the port where we lay, that night, in the interim I 
thought it expedient, and in our power, either to ran 
som the town or burn it. This last, would not perhaps, 

[183:3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

be so justifiable according to the rules of war, and 
usages of civilized nations ; but I knew it would in some 
measure retaliate for the depredations of some of the 
commanders of the British ships of war upon the coasts 
of the United States; particularly by James Wallace, 
commander of the Rose sloop of war, who had already, 
with the assistance of his officers and crew, burnt sev 
eral small villages upon the American coast; in some 
of which descents on the said coast, he and his ad 
herents had committed divers acts of the most wanton 
and barbarous kind towards the inhabitants of said vil 
lages, ever recorded in history. Having, with the appro 
bation of my officers, determined upon either burning 
or ransoming the village, opposite where we were at 
anchor; I ordered my first lieutenant, with a number 
of marines well armed, to proceed to the shore, and to 
lay the town under a contribution of ten thousand 
pounds sterling, to be executed in one hour, and in that 
interim to send on board three of the principal magis 
trates of the town, whom I was to detain as hostages 
until the money was paid and safely lodged on board 
of the privateer. The lieutenant, having received his 
orders how to conduct this affair, landed with his men, 
and convened the principal inhabitants, to whom he 
communicated his business, and the reason of his ap 
pearance then in the place in a hostile manner. They 
begged of him to allow them one quarter of an hour 
to consult upon this matter in private; and which, con 
trary to his orders, he granted them. During this short 
interval the lieutenant, with his men, fell to plundering 
the inhabitants of their silver plate and other rich ar 
ticles; ravishing, or attempting to ravish, the young 
maidens, and committing other acts of barbarity, all 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

against his particular orders, which so much exasper 
ated the inhabitants that they became desperate; and 
in their turn they attacked the lieutenant and his men 
with huge clubs, stones, &c. and obliged them to re 
treat towards the shore, where they got under cover of 
the privateer s guns; but the lieutenant, being a des 
perate fellow, and recollecting that he had not executed 
any part of his orders, faced about with his men, and 
rushed upon the inhabitants, who in their turn retreated 
in a very precipitate manner; several cannon from the 
privateer, at the same time, loaded with grape, round 
and canister shot, being discharged at them. The lieu 
tenant, after having set the town on fire together with 
the vessels which lay aground near by, came on board 
with his men, none of whom were hurt, bringing with 
them a good deal of plate and other valuable articles; 
also a very beautiful young girl, about sixteen years of 
age, very handsomely dressed, and who the lieutenant 
begged me to suffer him to detain on board until we 
arrived in France, promising, when we got there, that 
he would marry her. Enraged at such a proposition, 
and being, at first sight of this beautiful young lady, 
greatly prepossessed in her favour, and willing to re 
store her to her liberty, and also knowing the lieutenant 
to be already married, I ordered him immediately to 
be confined below to his cabin, for disobedience of my 
orders, and for being so cruel as to bring off the young 
woman in question without the consent of her friends, 
and which he at first told me was the case. I now en 
quired of her if any of my officers or men had made 
any attempt to injure her. She answered no ; and then 
fell upon her knees, and begged of me in the most mov 
ing terms that she was mistress of, in sobs and broken 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

English, not to carry her away from her parents and 
friends, but to suffer her to go immediately on shore, 
without depriving her of that which she said was dearer 
to her than life. She then made another effort, and 
clung fast hold of my knees, muttering something to 
herself of which I did not comprehend the meaning, but 
supposed it to be a prayer. I lifted her up and seated 
her in a chair, desiring her to wait a moment, and that 
I would myself see her safe on shore ; but she now (hav 
ing perhaps not understood me) cried, tore her hair, 
and raved like a mad person. She still thought that I 
intended to carry her off. The privateer being now 
under way, I wrote a few lines to the young woman s 
parents, desiring them to believe me when I disavowed 
to them that I had had any hand in causing their 
daughter to be brought on board of my vessel ; as proof 
of which, I had myself seen her safe on shore, and that 
I did not wage war on women or children; and finally 
I wished them happy in receiving their daughter again 
into the bosom of their family, as virtuous as when 
forced from them. Accordingly, I ordered the boat 
manned, and embarked with this young Scotch lass, and 
approached the shore amidst a shower of stones thrown 
at me by the inhabitants, who had assembled there to 
oppose my landing. However, as I landed they retired 
some paces back, and stood with their arms folded 
across their breasts, in wonder and astonishment at our 
boldness. Having landed the young woman, I made 
bold to steal a kiss from her, which was delicious, and 
which she returned with earnestness, saying taunky, 
taunky, guid mon, and then tripped away from me 
with a light pair of heels. 

After this I proceeded on board of the privateer, and 

[186] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

about ten at night we set the pilot on shore, paid him 
five guineas for pilotage (his price), and at twelve the 
same night we got clear of the Orkneys, and without 
having run in the way of the two English cruisers, be 
fore mentioned. The next day we captured two Eng 
lish sloops, manned them and sent them for France. 
The night following we took four English sloops, sunk 
three of them; the other one, the largest, I caused all 
the English prisoners who were on board of the priva 
teer, to be transported on board of this sloop, after they 
had signed a writing, purporting that they had been 
captured by the Eclipse cutter, under French colours,* 
and mentioning the commander s name; a copy of 
which they requested me to give them: I then gave 
them the sloop to go where they pleased; they wished 
me good bye, and we parted. 

On the 29th, stretched in under the Island of St. 
Kildy, lying to the Westward of Scotland. Here we 
sunk two sloops loaded with pipe clay, and ran into a 
small harbour and came to anchor, where we got a 
quantity of fresh vegetables and provisions. On the 
30th, we arrived off the N.E. part of Ireland, where we 
fell in with two English frigates, and were chased by 
them twelve hours. The first part of the chase they 
were to leeward of us, but having sprung the head of 
our mast, and the frigates gaining upon us fast, as we 
were, on account of that misfortune, obliged to shorten 
sail. In this situation we deliberated a few moments 

*At this time the captain of each French privateer was entitled to 
a crown a head for every English prisoner, paid by the French gov 
ernment. This was one reason that I took a certificate of the prison 
ers when I released them; another was, the English government 
were bound to return an equal number of Frenchmen. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

what would be best for us to do, and concluded to bear 
away before the wind, notwithstanding both frigates 
were at this time directly to leeward of us. We now, 
after getting every thing ready, bore away, set the fore 
sail, topsail, and crowded all the sail we could. When 
we came to get the privateer directly before the wind, 
we found that one of the frigates was now as near us as 
possible; the other frigate tacked and stood across our 
fore foot. I was sensible that I should be obliged to 
run a great risque; and for this reason after the yards 
were secured, and the throat and peak ties of the main 
sail, with chains, as was customary previous to coming 
into action, I ordered every one of the officers and crew 
to lie as flat upon our deck as they could. As we ap 
proached within gun shot of the two frigates, who were 
now standing head and head, in order to prevent our 
running betwixt them, the man at helm appeared by 
his wild steerage of the privateer, to be very much 
agitated and afraid; perceiving this, I took the helm, 
and steered the privateer directly between the two 
frigates. By this, both of them began firing into us; 
and they hailed us from on board of both ships, which 
we were now abreast of, and within pistol-shot, so that 
the officers on deck absolutely fired their pistols into 
us, besides the fire of the marines and top men. A great 
number of their shot went through our waist and boat, 
stowed in the chocks upon deck; one of which went 
through the main boom and fell into our cabin, which 
weighed twelve pounds. We at last got so far to lee 
ward of both frigates that they ceased firing their 
broadsides, but kept their bow guns warm in firing at 
us. Several of our men were w^ounded, but not a man 
killed, nor was any of our rigging damaged, but our 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

boom and mast had several shot through them. The 
wind beginning to fall we set more sail, and night com 
ing on we got clear of both frigates. On the ist of July, 
being in sight of Slime Head, we discovered a lofty 
sail to windward standing immediately towards us. We 
prepared for action; soon after saw her display English 
colours ; we did the same and hove to for her. I could 
now perceive that she had twelve guns of a side, and 
had the appearance of a letter of marque. The men 
for boarding were ready at their stations upon the bow 
sprit and the yard arms. She approached within gun 
shot of us, and having hailed her, found she was an 
English ship. I ordered our English ensign hauled 
down, and a French ensign and an American pendant 
hoisted ; as soon as this was done she poured her star 
board broadside into us and the battle commenced. We 
gave her four broadsides, when the men for boarding 
cried out, *A la bordage, mon capitaine. (Let us board 
her, captain.) We then ran the privateer along side of 
the enemy, when the boarding men leaped on board of 
her. They now quit their quarters and ran below; and 
down came the Englishman s flag. She proved to be the 
Lovely Lass, from the Island of Nevis, in the West 
Indies, bound to Liverpool, where she belonged. She 
was a valuable prize, loaded with sugar, rum, cotton, 
and other articles of West-India produce; burthen five 
hundred and sixty tons, and had mounted at the time 
twenty-four long nine pound cannon, several short 
eighteen pound caronades mounted upon carriages, be 
sides swivels, small arms, &c. and carried when she 
engaged us, seventy-five officers, men and boys. She 
lost in the action one mate, boatswain, six sailors, and 
two boys killed, and eleven of her crew were wounded. 



TANNING S NARRATIVE 

We lost in this battle, two killed and seven wounded, 
out of sixty-eight, which was the whole number, in 
cluding officers, that we had on board at the commence 
ment of the action. We put on board of this valuable 
prize, the third lieutenant of the privateer as prize 
master, and sixteen sailors; and ordered him to keep 
company with us, having concluded to convoy her into 
some port in France. The next day we took another 
prize, a brig loaded with provisions, bound from Ire 
land to Portsmouth; manned her, and ordered her for 
Morlaix. On the same night we lost sight of our prize, 
which we undertook to convoy. On the 3d, we shaped 
our course for 1 Orient, in order to refit, (being now in 
want of hands, a new mast and boom, besides pro 
visions, &c.) where I arrived on the yth, after having 
been chased two days successively by an English frigate 
and cutter. 

On the 24th day of July, the privateer being com 
pletely refitted and furnished with every thing needful, 
we set sail again from 1 Orient in order to finish our 
cruise. We steered for the coast of Ireland, and ar 
rived off the highlands of Dungarvan, on that coast on 
the ayth. At 5 P.M. we took a large galliot loaded with 
sugar and coffee, and a sloop from Glasgow, laden with 
bales of broad cloths, linens, &c. Put a prize master 
on board of each, manned them, and ordered them for 
Morlaix. On the 29th, took a small English sloop from 
Bristol; the master of which informed me, that he left 
at that place sixteen sail of merchant ships, mostly let 
ters of marque, waiting for a fair wind to proceed from 
thence to Cork; and that he understood that they were 
to be convoyed by a man of war s tender of fourteen 
guns. After the captain of this sloop had given me 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

this information, we took out of her a few bales of 
goods, which was all the valuable property she had on 
board, and gave the captain his sloop and dismissed 
him. At meridian I sent my boat on shore with the first 
lieutenant and the boat s crew armed, in order to get 
some fresh provisions and vegetables, charging him not 
to molest the inhabitants if they did not oppose his 
executing my orders ; and I furnished him with money, 
not to take anything of them without paying for it. At 
2 P.M. the boat returned on board, bringing off in her 
one fat ox, a few of the fattest sheep which I ever saw, 
geese, turkies, fowls, &c. and a young gentleman with 
his sister (a beautiful young lady). These young peo 
ple, it seems, the lieutenant had invited on board, tell 
ing them that he belonged to his majesty s cutter the 
Surprise; promising them they should be treated gen- 
teely on board, and have liberty to return on shore at 
any time they pleased. These young people, being as 
they said, son and daughter to the earl of Kieth, had 
been on a hunting match, and on their return towards 
home, they fell in with my lieutenant and his party, 
and accepted of his invitation, having never before this 
been on board of any vessel whatever. 

They were both very handsome and genteely dressed. 
The young lady had on a riding habit, and the young 
gentleman such clothes as were suited to the business, 
or the party of diversion which he had been upon. 

I made them very welcome; ordered something to 
be set upon the table for them to eat, and some good 
wine for them to drink, as they appeared to be much 
fatigued. We chatted awhile together, and cracked a 
few jokes, all was glee and mirth. (When they first 
came along side, those of my officers who could not 

i: 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

speak English, were ordered below deck.) As soon as 
the young people had refreshed themselves, they de 
sired to go upon deck to see the great guns (as they 
termed them). The young lady was very inquisitive, 
and asked me a great number of questions respecting 
what she saw. She wished to have one of the carnage 
guns fired off, which she was gratified with, but ap 
peared to be somewhat frightened at the report of it 
and begged of me not to order any more fired. The 
cry of a sail, by a man at mast head, now drew the at 
tention of all. Soon after this we saw that she was a 
large ship and shewed English colours. I now ordered 
all hands to quarters, and the men who had been con 
fined in the privateer s hold, who could not speak Eng 
lish, mounted upon the deck, and the young gentleman 
and lady (who it seems understood French) hearing 
so many of my crew speak the French tongue, they 
began to think we were enemies. Now let any one 
judge of these young people s surprise, when I assured 
them that our privateer was a French one, and an 
enemy. Upon hearing this they appeared to be struck 
dumb with astonishment. The young lady first broke 
silence, and said, My dear sir, I hope you are too good 
to have any intentions of carrying us to France, and 
before I had time to reply, the young gentleman spoke 
and said, that he would not be carried to France for a 
thousand guineas ; but if I took him away, he begged 
in the most humble stile, that I would order his sister 
to be set on shore, adding that their parents were old 
people, and that it would nearly break their hearts to 
lose both of their children at once. The young lady 
then replied, with vivacity, if I would set her on shore, 
she would engage to send me off on board the privateer 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

in four hours, three hundred guineas for the ransom of 
herself and brother, and that I might detain him on 
board as a hostage, for the due performance of what 
she had promised. After she said this, she burst out 
into tears, crying O, my dear papa and mama. 

Having never had any inclination of detaining either 
of them on board longer than it suited them, I ordered 
the boat manned, and told these young people that they 
might go on shore whenever they pleased ; when there 
fore they heard this news, their joy knew no bounds, 
and their expressions of thankfulness to me were warm 
and grateful beyond description. The young gentle 
man now begged to know my name, declaring if ever I 
should come to be a prisoner, in either Ireland or Eng 
land, I might command him or his fortune; he then 
stepped into my cabin, and wrote, and left me his 
address. I declined, however, telling him my name, or 
the name of the privateer which I commanded. I was 
now about handing the young lady over the side, when 
I begged her to permit me to take one parting kiss, 
which she without hesitation granted; and which I 
thought at the time sweeter than the Scotch kiss. They 
then embarked, and I had the pleasure to see them 
safely landed: after which the boat returned on board, 
and was immediately hoisted into her chocks. The 
weather having fell calm; when the ship we saw before 
the young Irish people were set on shore was now with 
in one league of us and shewed her broadside to us. She 
really had the appearance at this time of a ship of war, 
and shewed thirteen guns of a side. In this stage of the 
business, I consulted my officers whether it was best to 
attack her; a major part of them were for this measure, 
and I found nearly all my crew were in favour of it. 

193:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

We accordingly out sweeps, and endeavoured to get 
along side or under her stern, before night set in. We 
soon got within reach of her guns, when she began to 
fire upon us; but we after this soon got astern of her, 
where she could only annoy us with her stern chasers. 
At the setting of the sun we had got close under her 
stern, within musket shot, and could now perceive that 
she had a great many soldiers on board. We now gave 
the privateer a rank sheer, brought our broadside to 
bear upon her stern, and poured it into them, which 
made great confusion on board of the enemy. We re 
peated this several times and then rowed directly along 
side of her; when the boarding men being in readiness, 
they jumped on board of the enemy, part of whom 
instantly quit their quarters, on seeing a number of 
naked men* jumping on board of them. In five minutes 
after my boarding men had got on board of the enemy, 
they bawled out, Quarters, quarters, for God s sake! 
and dowsed their colours. She proved to be the None 
Such, an English letter of marque, of Bristol, bound 
for Cork, laden with the manufactures of Old England. 
She mounted 26 six pound cannon, part of which were 
brass; and had on board when she engaged us, by their 
own account, eighty-seven officers and men. We found 
killed upon her decks and forecastle fourteen men and 
boys, and besides they had thrown overboard several of 
their men who were killed during the action; which 

*We had on board of the privateer about thirty of these boarding 
men; they were Maltese, Genoese, Turks, and Algerines. They 
were large, stout, brawny, well made men, and delighted in boarding 
an enemy. Upon these occasions they stripped themselves naked, ex 
cepting a thin pair of drawers, and used no other weapon but a long 
knife or dirk, which were secured in their girdles around their waists. 

D94] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

continued only 31 minutes. Besides her complement of 
men, she had on board one hundred and twenty-seven 
British troops, which were destined for America, and 
were to be joined by others then at Cork. We lost in 
this action on board of our privateer three killed, and 
seven wounded. We put on board of this prize the first 
lieutenant as prize master, and manned her with twen 
ty-five picked men, took out the captain, his two mates, 
and part of her crew, and transported them on board of 
the privateer. We took care to see that all the British 
officers and soldiers on board of the prize were con 
fined below deck, as well as the rest of the Englishmen ; 
and I ordered the prize master not to suffer but one of 
the prisoners to come on deck at a time, until she ar 
rived in port. I ordered the prize for the first port she 
could get into in France.* 

I was exceeding sorry to learn from some of the Irish 
people who came on board my privateer a few days 
after this battle, that my lieutenant who went on shore 
with the two young people before mentioned, plun 
dered the young man of a gold watch, and who was now 
gone to France in one of the prizes captured by us, and 
who I never afterwards saw. I should certainly, if I 
had seen him, obliged him either to return the watch 
to the owner, or make restitution for it. 

After this I shaped my course for the Isle of Man, in 
Bristol channel, where I arrived and cruised several 
days, in hopes of falling in with some rich prizes, or the 
Bristol fleet, but a violent gale of wind setting in, 
obliged us to shift our station, and it was not without 
the greatest difficulty and hazard that we did, under 
very short sail, double the Land s End. We were sev- 

* She arrived safe at Brest. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

eral times during this severe trial in the most imminent 
danger of being cast upon the coast. Having however 
got into the English channel, we hove to, and lay thirty- 
six hours under a ballance try-sail. On the 9th of 
August, the weather cleared off and became more mod 
erate. Towards night we took two prizes, a brig and a 
sloop, put prize masters and men on board of each, 
taking out nearly all the prisoners, and sent them for 
Morlaix. At 10 at night, landed a party of men on the 
coast of Cornwall, well armed, and took off some fresh 
provisions, which at that time we stood much in need of 
for our wounded men and prisoners. On the loth at 
Meridian, we captured two English brigs, in sight of 
twenty-eight English ships of the line that were then 
lying at anchor in Torbay, besides several frigates and 
cutters at anchor with them. The two prizes were 
laden with provisions, and were bound for the grand 
fleet just mentioned; manned them and sent them for 
the first French port they could get into. Afterwards 
we stretched into a bay near Falmouth, where we could 
discover a brig and a sloop lying at anchor under the 
guns of a small fort; we soon got within gun shot of the 
same and brought to. With this the fort began firing 
at us pretty briskly; and also upon my boat, which had 
been sent with a few armed men to take possession of 
the brig and sloop; the crews of which had at first, 
when they discovered us to be an enemy, abandoned 
them and fled towards the shore. The fort was silenced 
after we had discharged a few broadsides at it. The 
second lieutenant, with a party of men, was now dis 
patched to take possession thereof; and on their landing 
and approaching the fort, I was not a little surprized 
to see about a dozen women quit the same, and make a 

D96] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

percipitate retreat from it; and what astonished us still 
more was, that not a man was, or had been, in the fort 
at or before the time of my men s entering it. The 
women, by the by, were each armed with a musket, and 
as they retreated, they would once in a while face about 
and discharge their pieces at my men, as they advanced 
to take possession of the fort; where these last, on en 
tering it, found four four pounders, and six three 
pounders, mounted upon carriages, which my lieuten 
ant and his party spiked up, and then quit the fort and 
returned on board, bringing with them a quantity of 
powder which they found in said fort. We put a prize 
master and crew on board of the brig, she being richly 
laden, and ordered her for Morlaix. The sloop I gave 
to the English prisoners, which we then had on board, 
consisting of one hundred and ninety-five, officers, men 
and boys. The sloop had nothing in her but ballast, 
of any consequence. The prisoners were very thankful 
to me for this gift, as well as for their liberation. They, 
before we parted, made many promises to relieve and 
assist us, if ever they were acquainted of our being 
prisoners of war in any part of England. I took a cer 
tificate of them, as was customary on such occasions. 
They gave us three cheers, after which we made sail 
and stood off from the land. 

On the morning of the i ith we fell in with the Jupi 
ter,* a fifty gun ship, and one of the fastest sailers in 
the British navy, and two frigates. They bore from us 

*The way I came to know that this ship was the Jupiter was, 
having seen and conversed with her 2d lieutenant in Ostend a long 
time thereafter, and who mentioned several circumstances as they 
occurred during the chase; and that it was the intention of the cap 
tain of the Jupiter, if they had captured us, to have hung the captain 
of the privateer to the yard-arm. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

when we first discovered them about W. by S. distance 
nearly five leagues; the wind then blowing a fresh 
gale at W.S.W. We bore away before the wind, and 
packed all sail upon the privateer. The three ships 
gave chase to us, and spread all their canvass which 
would draw. We soon after saw a large cutter di 
rectly ahead of us with English colours set. The largest 
ship astern now hove out a signal, and the cutter hove 
to to obstruct our passing her. All hands were now 
called to quarters on board of our privateer. We ap 
proached the English cutter fast, and perceived that she 
mounted fourteen guns, and that she had hauled up 
the tack of her mainsail, and was prepared to give us a 
warm reception. The ships in chase of me were now 
in such a position that in order to avoid them, I was 
obliged to run within pistol shot of the cutter. We 
passed her; in doing which we exchanged broadsides. 
She did us no injury. We then rounded to, and gave 
her our other broadside, which carried away her top 
mast, jib tack, and peak tye. In this crippled situation 
we left her, and continued our course before the wind, 
without taking in a rag of sail, as the ships were then 
close to our heels. One of the ships in chase, having 
got up with the cutter, and hove to, to her assistance, 
the cutter very soon disappeared as we thought, and we 
concluded that she sunk, but after this we saw the ship, 
which had hove to, to assist her, take her in tow, and 
stretch in towards the land. At 3 P.M. we had so far 
outsailed them that we had lost sight of all of them but 
the fifty gun ship, which was now about three leagues 
distance astern of us ; and about the same time we dis 
covered ahead of us the English channel fleet of men of 
war, extending in a line from abreast of the east end 

1:1983 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

of the Isle of Wight towards the southward about nine 
miles. There appeared to be no alternative left us now 
but to run directly through this line. In order to suc 
ceed in this hazardous and Don Quixote attempt, I 
ordered the French colours hauled down, and an Eng 
lish ensign and pendant hoisted. Soon after we could 
distinctly count in this fleet twenty-eight ships of the 
line, several of which were three-deckers; besides a 
number of frigates, sloops of war, and cutters. Several 
signals were displayed on board of the ship astern of 
us. The grand fleet also made several signals. I cer 
tainly at this time, made some dependance, and had 
faith to believe that the deception which I had con 
templated, relative to our being able to shun the danger 
which now awaited us, would succeed. Our cutter hav 
ing been built in England and was now painted exactly 
like the king s cutters, and the most of my officers and 
crew spoke English, and were dressed like them; this 
being the case, the deception was the more easy. I 
ordered all those who could speak no English on board 
of us to go below, and then approached the English 
fleet with boldness, entered the centre of their line, 
passed through between two three deckers; from on 
board of both (we being then within pistol shot of 
them,) they hailed us in these words, What cutter is 
that. The answer was, His majesty s cutter Surprize. 
We dropped our peak, and dowsed our colours, passing 
these wooden castles; but did not take in a rag of sail. 
We had nearly got without hail, when they hallooed 
us to bring to. We answered ay, ay; but notwithstand 
ing kept on our course. We had now given them the 
slip, and meant to show them a yankee trick, by giving 
them leg bail. The ships of the line in the centre, fired 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

several cannon at us, the shot of which flew consider 
ably beyond us, passing over our heads. Finding that 
we did not bring to, three frigates, a sloop of war, 
and a cutter, separated from the fleet, and gave chase 
to us. The fifty gun ship at the same time passed 
through the grand fleet, and continued to chase us. 
The cutter appeared to outsail either of them; and she 
in fact sailed faster than we did. Perceiving this, I 
ordered the man at the helm from time to time, to give 
our privateer a rank sheer, and ordered the drag over 
board to retard her way through the water. The Eng 
lish cutter came up within musket shot, and began fir 
ing into us.* We gave her two broadsides and cut away 
some of her rigging (which she hove to to repair, as we 
supposed.) But after this she did not attempt even to 
follow us. This was done just in the dusk of the even 
ing; and at the same time the other ships, except the 
Jupiter, gave over chasing us, and hauled upon a wind, 
which increased, and the last mentioned ship appeared 
to gain upon us; however night shut in, and we could 
not see her with our naked eyes, but could perceive her 
quite plain with our night-glass. Being by this time 
much fatigued, after having gone through so many dif 
ferent scenes in the course of the day, and an hungered 
withal, I stepped below to get some refreshment, not 
apprehending that we should be taken at this time by 
any of those ships which had been chasing us, except 
ing I thought it was doubtful whether we should get 
clear of the Jupiter or not. I had no sooner got below 
than the fellow at the helm broached to the cutter and 
carried away our top-mast just above the uppermost 

*The English cutter neither killed nor wounded any of our men, 
nor did us any injury. 

[2003 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

with. The steering sail, ringtail, and water sail haul- 
yards gave way, and parted at the same instant, which 
threw us into some confusion. I ordered the ringtail 
and water sail cut clear, and took the helm. My gun 
ner, in attempting to execute my orders, fell off the 
mainboom, there being a bad sea running; we strove to 
save him but did not succeed; the poor fellow was 
drowned. Having got the cutter before the wind again 
and the light sails secured on board, all hands were em 
ployed with as much expedition as possible in order to 
get a spare top-mast on end; but before we succeeded 
in this, the fifty gun ship came up with us, ran under our 
stern, and luffed up under our lee, and accosted us in 

this manner, Strike, you d d Irish rascal; drop the 

peak of your mainsail, and haul down your jib sheet to 
the windward; hoist out your boat, and come on board 
of his majesty s ship. I answered that my boat was so 
full of holes that she could not swim. It was now about 
four o clock in the morning and nearly three hours be 
fore day would break, no moon, and pretty dark. They 
replied, that they would hoist out their own boat, and 
ordered me to hoist a lighted lanthorn at the peak, 
which was complied with. She had her light sails 
taken in, her courses hauled up, ready for action, with 
her head to the Southward, ours at the same time being 
in the opposite direction. 

My officers were now in readiness to surrender as 
prisoners of war to the enemy, having dressed them 
selves in their best clothes, and two shirts a piece; I 
suggested to them the idea and probability there was at 
present of making our escape from the enemy. To this, 
a majority of them was for attempting this truly 
hazardous business; and I told them I would risk my- 



TANNING S NARRATIVE 

self at helm till we should get out of reach of the 
enemy s shot. The plan thus being concerted, we pro 
ceeded to carry it into effect, the enemy being at this 
stage of the business, busily employed in hoisting out 
their boat, which we knew by the boatswain s call. I 
ordered some men to sway up the peak and let draw 
the jib sheets; this done, I directed every man and boy 
to lie flat upon the deck; and our privateer just began 
to gather head way, when the enemy s boat left the ship 
in order to board us. I desired every one to obey my 
orders, and we should quickly get away from the enemy 
(and which they paid implicit obedience to;) but I 
must confess, I had not much faith at the same time of 
getting away from them. They perceiving our inten 
tions, their boat returned on board, and she instantly 
began a most tremendous fire upon us from all parts of 
the ship, and she had the appearance for a few minutes, 
of a luminous body of fire. She was at this time within 
musket shot of us.* They by this time finding that we 
were trying to make our escape in good earnest, wore 
ship, and got aboard their fore and main tacks, set their 
top gallant sails, and in fact, crouded all the sail which 
they could set by the wind after us. She however, con 
tinued to fire her bow chasers at us. We now hove in 
stays, and were obliged in stretching by her to expose 
ourselves to another broadside, as well as from the 
musketry. I knew this to be the pinch of the game ; and 
therefore, cautioned once more, every body upon deck 
to lie as close as possible. She blazed away at us from 
every part of her as we passed each other. At this mo 
ment I received a flesh wound in the leg, and another in 

* Several musket balls were afterwards picked up upon our deck, 
and a number found in our spars. 

C202] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the forehead, by a splinter, and which knocked me 
down, and stunned me (upon deck) where I lay some 
time motionless. Several of my officers and men were 
wounded at the same time and some of them cried out, 
For God s sake, let us strike. Having now recovered 
myself, and got hold of the helm, I answered these men, 
that in ten or fifteen minutes more we should be out of 
gun shot of the enemy. We were now gaining away 
from the enemy very fast. We tacked again, and in 
passing her this time she could but just reach us with 
her shot. We found it best to tack often, as we were 
then plying to windward, and as we could manage our 
privateer with more ease and expedition than the 
enemy, we could ply to the windward much faster than 
they could ; accordingly, the next time we passed the 
ship, though she fired her broadside at us, yet her shot 
did not reach us. At day light in the morning the 
enemy were at least four leagues to leeward of us; and 
she soon after gave up the chase and bore away from us. 
It is my opinion that the enemy expended more powder 
and shot in firing at us, than she would have done in an 
engagement with an enemy s ship of equal force, two 
hours. So much for the Irish rascal; as they called 
me but the bird had flown. And now, messieurs braga- 
docio Englishmen, you may return home and tell 
your royal master, that you catched an Irishman and 
lost him. * 

In this running fight we did not fire a single gun. 
We had enough else to do, to manoeuver our privateer, 
and keep out of reach as much as possible of the shot 
of the enemy. We had on this occasion, thirteen men 

* Alluding to a record once made at sea in a Yankee log book, of 
catched a dolphin and lost it. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

slightly wounded, but none killed. Our waist and boat 
(stowed in the chocks) were pierced through and 
through with eighteen and nine pound shot. Our sails 
also were full of shot holes ; not less than seven hundred 
and fifty of these last could be counted (after we had 
got clear of the Jupiter) in our mainsail alone ; but dur 
ing the whole of her firing upon and into our privateer, 
she did not cut away a single piece of rope or rigging 
of any kind whatsoever. We now had some leisure 
time to dress our wounded men, and to take some re 
freshment, there not being any vessels in sight except 
the Jupiter, and she was so far to leeward that we could 
but just discern her. 

At 10 o clock next morning we were close in with the 
English land, opposite a small sea port called Rye; 
here we captured an English brig* laden with sea 
coal, put a prize master and crew on board, and or 
dered her for Dunkirk. Also took a small sloop in 
ballast, and gave her to the English prisoners, to the 
number of ninety-four; we took a certificate of them, 
and they made us many profers of friendship, and 
wished us well, gave us three cheers, and departed. 

On the following day, at meridian, the wind being at 
S.W. by S. and the weather somewhat thick and cloudy, 
we discovered a sail to windward standing towards us. 
We hove to, waited for her to come up with us, and 
prepared for action. Soon after we could plainly see 
that she shewed twelve guns of a side, and appeared 
to be full of troops. She soon after passed us within 
gun shot, but did not attempt to speak us. We at this 
time had English colours flying, which I ordered to be 

* Several Englishmen entered on board of the privateer, belonging 
to vessels which we took. 

^204] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

hauled down, and French colours hoisted in their 
place. The enemy, as soon as they discovered who we 
were, took in their light sails, and hauled by the wind 
for us. The boarding men were now ready at their 
stations, and began crying as usual, ( A la bordage, mon 
capitaine. The swaggering English, having got within 
cannon shot, gave us a broadside, which we returned, 
and the action commenced within musket shot. The 
English fired briskly for about fifteen minutes, and 
then began to slacken. At about the same time I was 
wounded by a musket ball, which passed through my 
left leg, which bled so fast that my shoe was instantly 
full of blood.* I took a handkerchief and bound it 
round the wound, and found no inconvenience in re 
maining at my station upon deck during the remainder 
of the action. We could now hear the groans of the 
wounded and dying on board of the enemy, whereas we 
had not as yet lost a single man. In order to make 
quick work, and put an end to the contest, I ordered the 
privateer laid alongside of the vaunting English;** 
the naked and other boarding men, being sprung upon 
the yards, bowsprit, &c. in a full flow of spirits, and 
anxious for the moment to arrive, when they could leap 
on board of the enemy. At length we out manoeuvered 
them so much, as to run under her stern, poured our 
broadside into her, which raked them fore and aft, and 
made a dreadful slaughter of them; we luffed up under 
her lee, and our boarding men jumped on board of the 
enemy, where the conflict was bloody for about six 

*I did not feel the ball when it struck my leg, nor did any one 
besides myself know that I was wounded until the action was over. 

**The English kept constantly hallooing, Strike, you French beg 
gars, or we will give you no quarters. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

minutes, when we gained the victory; most of the Eng 
lish, as usual, having quit their quarters, and skulked 
below decks, nearly at the same time my men had got 
on board of them. However, at the very instant the 
enemy bawled out for quarters, they were upon their 
decks, almost double the number of them to the num 
ber of which my men consisted, then on board of the 
ship. The fact was, that in this instance, as well as in 
several others of a similar kind, the courage of the 
Englishmen failed them at the moment they saw a 
crowd of naked men leaping on board of them, or sus 
pended in the air, ready to drop down upon their heads. 
I say, when they saw such sights as these, they were con 
verted instantly into the greatest cowards and poltroons 
in nature; they became mere shadows. I speak from 
knowing the fact, having so often had ocular demon 
strations of the truth of what I have here advanced. 
Her flag being struck, she proved to be the Lord Howe, 
from Cork, bound to the Downs; was, when taken, in 
the king s service, and commanded by a lieutenant of 
the navy. She was about six hundred tons burthen, had 
mounted upon carriages twenty-four long six pound 
cannon, besides several short carronades, cowhorns, 
swivels, &c. Her officers and men, (mostly old man of 
war s men) at the commencement of the battle, accord 
ing to the report made to me by the lieutenant, con 
sisted of eighty-seven. Besides these, she had at the 
time, one hundred and ten officers and soldiers, belong 
ing to one of the English regiments, which had been 
stationed in Ireland. The enemy lost in the action one 
major, one lieutenant, (of the land forces,) and twenty- 
one soldiers; one master s mate, one boatswain, seven 
teen seamen, and three boys killed; and thirty-eight 

[206 3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

officers, seamen, and soldiers wounded. On board of 
the privateer, we had killed, one quarter-master, one 
gunner s mate, one boatswain s mate, ten seamen, five 
marines, and two boys, besides twenty-two officers and 
others, wounded. The whole number of our crew, in 
cluding officers, at the time of the commencement of 
this battle, on board of our privateer, did not exceed 
seventy-two. The prize was not very valuable, being 
only in a set of ballast, which consisted of beef, pork, 
and butter. We had but just got all the prisoners trans 
ported on board of the privateer, and confined in our 
hold, (the greater part of whom we put in irons for our 
safety;) when the weather, which had been dark and 
cloudy, cleared off; and behold! an English frigate of 
thirty-two guns was close aboard of us. We were 
therefore obliged to abandon our prize, and endeavour 
to give her leg bail. But as a trophy of our victory, we 
brought off the colours of our antagonist; and wrote, 
with chalk upon her quarterdeck, some of the particu 
lars of the battle. We did not leave any person on 
board of the prize; and before we quit her part of her 
guns were thrown over board, and the rest spiked up. 
The frigate was now so near us that she fired several 
shot at us and over us, this being the case, no time was 
to be lost, on our part. We therefore spread all the 
sail that we could upon the privateer; having previous 
to this got a new top-mast on end. In one hour after, 
we saw the frigate pass close aboard of the ship, which 
we had captured, but she made no stop, but continued 
her pursuit after us before the wind; and after about 
three hours fruitless chase, finding that we out dis 
tanced her, she took in her light sails and trimmed by 
the wind. 

[207] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

I now concluded to return to Dunkirk, and accord 
ingly shaped my course for that port. I had several 
reasons, as I thought, which would justify my adopt 
ing this measure. Among which were these; I had a 
great number of wounded men on board; and the most 
of them were obliged to be crowded together among 
the English, in the hold, where they could not well be 
taken care of. I had on board a great many prisoners, 
among whom were many which were wounded ; and we 
ran a great risque of our own lives, by the great possi 
bility there was of their rising and overpowering us. 
We were not in a situation to give battle to an enemy 
of equal force, on account of our being so crowded with 
prisoners of war. We could muster but about thirty 
well men in all, including officers, belonging to my 
privateer, at this time. I was wounded myself, and 
now confined to my cabin; my leg was very sore and 
pained me very much, the bones having been a good 
deal shattered, and I could not bear any weight upon it. 
And we were also at this time in great want of pro 
visions. These reasons I minuted down in my journal 
as they occurred to me, to be shown to my owners, if 
circumstances required it. I arrived at Dunkirk, two 
days after the battle which I had with the English 
twenty-four gun ship, which I was obliged to abandon; 
and as soon as we were in port, and made fast to the 
quay, the people flocked down from all parts of the 
town, to see our shattered privateer. The commandant 
of the place was one of the first who tendered me his 
services, and helped me to get into his own coach, in 
which I was carried to his house, where I was waited 
upon by nearly all the king s officers then in Dunkirk, 
and where I had every kind attention shewn me by 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

every one of the commandant s family. Three days 
after I was carried to the Hotel D Estaing, where I 
used to lodge, and where I was confined to my room 
about three weeks, during which time I was visited by 
not only the first gentlemen in the town, but the ladies, 
who appeared to be much interested in my recovery. 
My owners also visited me the most frequent of any 
others, and appeared to be very anxious for the restora 
tion of my health. (As during my confinement, having 
caught a cold in my leg, it impaired my health very 
much.) They told me they had got a new brig built on 
purpose for me, sheathed with copper, and modeled 
upon an entire new construction ; and it was said by those 
who were judges, that she would be the fastest sailer 
ever built in Dunkirk. She was to mount eighteen 
nine pounders; and they informed me they were daily 
in expectations of her masts arriving from Norway, to 
which place they had sent almost on purpose for them, 
as there were no spars in Dunkirk at the time (except in 
the king s yard, and they could not be spared) which 
would be any way suitable for the brig s masts. One 
of my owners importuned me to put up at his house, 
after I had so far recovered as to be able to walk; and 
where I lodged and made it my home at his house. His 
daughter, who owned part of the brig,* paid great at 
tention to me, somewhat bordering upon love. Her 
partiality for me was the first topic of conversation 
addressed to me in every company where I happened to 
be. But I was then too much of a warrior to listen to 
the subject of love. Besides, the lady in question was 

*It is not uncommon, in war time, in France, for young ladies of 
fortune to own one or more shares in privateers, fitted out from all 
ports in France. 

[209] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

then about thirty-five years of age, very stiff and formal 
in her manners, very ordinary in both shape and 
features, and in fact was such a kind of a female as 
would be called in my country an old maid. But why 
should I discover her weakness? However, in order to 
avoid her importunity, while we were waiting for the 
new brig s masts, I purchased a part of a small cutter, 
of about forty tons, English built, and set people to 
work upon her, to get her ready for a cruise. As soon 
as this circumstance was known to the lady in question, 
she insisted upon taking a few shares in this cutter; for, 
by the by, she was very rich. To this the owners of said 
privateer acquiesced in ; and she was ready for a cruise 
by the 2oth of October. I waited upon the judge of the 
admiralty, to ask him to grant a commission for this 
small cutter, which we had named the Ranger. He ap 
peared to be somewhat surprized, that I should ask for 
the grant of a commission for so small a vessel; and 
asked me what had become of the large cutter which I 
had commanded. I replied, that she was laid up, and 
that she had got so old and crazy, that I did not choose 
to venture myself another cruise in her; especially, as 
the winter was setting in, and that she leaked so bad, 
and appeared to work so much in the last gale of wind 
which I had on the last cruise, that I did not think her 
a safe vessel, with the guns which she had carried. The 
judge appeared to listen with attention to what I said ; 
and then said, Sir, I have the honour to acquaint you, 
that his most Christian majesty s minister of the marine 
department,* hearing of your bravery, in divers in 
stances, in supporting the honour and dignity of the 
French flag; particularly during your last cruise, has 

*Monseigneur the Marquis de Castre. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

appointed you a lieutenant in the French navy, and at 
tached to this appointment, half pay of such officer dur 
ing life (your continuing to reside in France during 
that time, being complied with,) otherwise while you 
do remain in the kingdom. In saying these words, he 
desired me to sit down, and then he ordered his servant 
to step to the bureau de classes,* and get my commis 
sion; who soon after returned with a roll of parchment 
in his hand, which was my commission. The judge, 
after passing some high encomiums upon my late con 
duct, presented me with my commission. I told the 
judge, that I would do myself the honour of accepting 
it at some other time, but that at present I wished it to 
remain on file in his office. And after a long conversa 
tion upon several subjects, I obtained a commission for 
the Ranger. I shipped one lieutenant only,** a brave 
enterprising officer, with whom I had formerly been 
acquainted (having been a fellow prisoner with him in 
Forton prison, in England,) one boatswain, one gun 
ner and twenty American seamen; whom I advanced 
ten guineas each, as earnest money for a cruise of fifteen 
days, which was as long as I intended the cruise to last. 
The cutter mounted only three four pounders upon 
carriage, and six swivels, with every warlike imple 
ment necessary for boarding an enemy. It was in this 
way that we contemplated capturing English vessels, 
and not by the assistance or dependance upon our 
cannon. 

I set sail from Dunkirk in said privateer, with a fair 
wind, for the English coast, on the evening of the 23d 
of October, and shaped our course for the Downs. At 

*The custom house. 

** Thomas Greenleaf, since a printer in the city of New York. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

day light next morning we found ourselves amidst an 
English fleet of sixty odd sail of ships and other vessels, 
not far from Dover, all of which appeared to be bound 
to the westward; and we had at that time a light breeze 
of wind from the eastward. The first thing we did in 
this perilous situation, was to cover our guns with light 
sails, unship our swivels, and stow them away, (our 
guns having been housed) and hoist English colours. 
We steered along the same course which they did, I also 
ordered all my men below, except the one at the helm 
and two others, and disguised our privateer as much 
as possible, so as to make her appear like a coasting 
vessel. As soon as it was broad daylight, in reconnoitre- 
ing the fleet, I could not discover but one frigate of 
thirty-two guns among them, and she appeared to be 
the commodore, by her broad pendant; there was how 
ever, several letters of marque among them, mounting 
from four to sixteen carriage guns; besides two large 
sixteen gun cutters. At meridian the wind shifted to 
the westward, but was very light, and the current 
ahead. The commodore made a signal for the fleet to 
bring to and come to anchor. This being done, I had 
the mortification to see several boats passing and re- 
passing from one ship to another, and was momently 
in expectation of their paying me a visit. And if they 
had, they must have discovered who we were in all 
human probability; however, our alarms on this score 
subsided, when we saw the vessels who had got out their 
boats to visit each other, hoist them on board. At 5 
P.M. the signal was made for the fleet to get under way, 
we did the same, and steered along with them. My 
lieutenant and myself now cracked some jokes on the 
subject of being made prisoners again. We spoke two 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

ships and a brig towards night, and passed within pistol 
shot of them; and besides, had a long conversation with 
the people on board of one of the ships, the wind being 
light and the sea smooth. On the first night we agreed 
not to separate from the fleet until we had captured 
some of them. (Whereas we might have possibly 
sneaked away, and got clear of them this very night, 
without its being attended with any great risque, had 
we made the attempt.) But the fact was, we could not 
reconcile it to ourselves, to be forced to quit so many 
valuable vessels, as we expected there were in the fleet, 
without making the trial agreed upon. We found by 
conversing, as before mentioned, with some of those 
who were in one of these vessels, that the whole fleet 
was bound for Portsmouth. In fine, we kept company 
with this fleet (without I believe, being suspected by 
the English of being an enemy) three days and two 
nights, during which the winds were ahead and very 
light; and on the third night (the two preceding nights 
having been too light to attack either of the fleet) we 
made the attempt, and succeeded in the following man 
ner. Before dark, the sun having set in or behind a 
dark cloud, and the weather having at the same time, 
an appearance of becoming squally, the commodore 
made a signal, by firing three guns, and hoisting several 
flags, which we understood afterwards by some of the 
prisoners, was for the fleet to disperse and seek shelter in 
the nearest port, which was Rye, then not far distant to 
the Northward and Eastward of us. At 9 P.M. we ran 
under the lee of a large ship, (having our men ready 
for boarding) and hailed them, and asked them if they 
were acquainted with going into that port. They an 
swered in the negative. I then demanded of them, if 

213:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

we should put a pilot on board of them. To which they 
replied, ay, ay . It was then very dark, and nearly all 
the ship s crew were upon the yards, reefing her top 
sails. I then ran under her lee quarter, and ordered the 
lieutenant, who had the command of the men for board 
ing, to leap on board with his party, which he did in 
stantly. The captain of the ship, with his men upon 
deck made but a faint resistance; and after a short 
skirmish, the English yielded and were made prisoners, 
as were those also who were upon her yards, as they 
came down. Not a single cannon or musket was dis 
charged by either party during the conflict, and but 
three or four pistols. The enemy had several slightly 
wounded. The lieutenant, the first man who mounted 
on board of the ship, and three others of his party, were 
also wounded, but very slightly. She proved to be the 
Maria, letter of marque, mounting eight double forti 
fied 6 pound cannon, and mounted upon carriages be 
tween decks; and was calculated to fight then in close 
quarters, as nearly all her rigging were led between 
decks, in such a manner, as to manoeuver the ship with 
out exposing her men to the fire of an enemy. Her 
crew, including the captain and his officers, consisted of 
thirty-five picked men, besides three gentlemen pas 
sengers. She was bound from the Downs to Ports 
mouth, laden with sundry articles for the navy, and 
was one of the fleet aforesaid. As soon as we had got 
all the prisoners secured in irons in the privateer s hold, 
I ordered the first lieutenant to take charge of the ship ; 
put ten men on board to assist in working her; gave 
him a copy of my commission, and directed him to 
steer across the channel, and make the first French port 
in his power, and to crowd as much sail upon the 

1:214:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

prize as she could carry. Several of the lights of the 
fleet were now plainly seen, notwithstanding the dark 
ness of the night; however, no alarm guns were as yet 
fired by any of them. We next ran along side of a large 
brigantine, and boarded and took her, no resistance 
being made by her crew. She was one of the fleet, 
mounted four carriage guns, and manned with fifteen 
men and boys, including the captain and mate, laden 
with sheathing copper for the navy; and was called the 
Speedwell. Put a prize master and six men on board 
of her; took out the prisoners and secured them in our 
hold, and ordered the prize master to make all sail, and 
crowd over for the French shore as fast as possible, and 
get into the first port he could. The next thing which 
I did was to board a large sloop, and capture her; and 
we ran a great risque in laying along side of her, (as 
the wind blew fresh at W.S.W. and the sea ran pretty 
high) of going to the bottom; and the prisoners who 
were confined in our hold made a dreadful noise; hal 
looing that we were sinking, and that the water came in 
where they were confined, very fast. However, all this 
ado did not induce me to quit this last prize without 
manning her for France, and taking out the prisoners, 
both of which was completed in a few minutes. I put 
the boatswain and gunner on board of this prize 
(neither of which understood navigating a vessel) and 
one seaman ; gave the boatswain a copy of my commis 
sion, and gave him the same orders as I had given the 
other two prize masters. This last prize had in a few 
bales of dry goods; the rest of her lading was pigs of 
lead, and sea coal. She was from the river Thames, 
bound for Portsmouth, was one of the fleet, and called 
the Dolphin. In taking these prizes, securing the 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

prisoners, and manning them, spun away the greater 
part of the night, and I began to think seriously of 
sculking off as fast as possible. I had now only left on 
board with me two Irish lads, (although I shipped 
them at Dunkirk, for American seamen,) neither of 
whom could steer. This placed me in a very awkward 
situation; as I knew it would not be safe to let any of 
the prisoners out of the hold, to assist in working our 
privateer. However, I made shift to set some sail and 
left the fleet; and at day break we could distinctly hear 
alarm guns fired. We were now several leagues from 
them. At 6 A.M. I had overtaken two of my prizes, to 
wit, the brigantine and the sloop ; and at the same time 
saw a large cutter bearing down upon us, which ap 
peared to have come from the fleet. We were then 
abreast of the port of Dieppe, a small sea port upon the 
French coast. I spoke my prizes, and ordered those 
who had command of them to endeavour to gain that 
port, not thinking it prudent to remain with them; as 
in that case I might make my escape with the privateer, 
but my prizes would certainly be retaken (provided the 
cutter in question was an English one.) I then hauled 
upon a wind to the northward and eastward, the wind 
being then about N.N.W. The large cutter at the same 
time stood nearly across our fore foot; and when we 
had got nearly out of sight of our prizes, I bore away 
nearly before the wind; the enemy s cutter did the 
same. I could not set any more sail, being obliged to 
keep the helm myself, for the reason before given ; and 
the two lads, that were left on board of my original 
crew, did not know how to set even the square sail and 
top sail. 

I could now perceive that the cutter in chase of me 

216:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

gained upon us very fast, and at 2 P.M. she came up 
with and captured me. She mounted fourteen carriage 
guns, was in the king s service, and commanded by a 
lieutenant in the royal navy, by the name of Laines. 
We found, after the Ranger was taken, that she would 
sail faster than the cutter which took us, when she came 
to be managed right, and a sufficiency of sail set upon 
her. The commander of the king s cutter I was 
acquainted with, having seen him in Ostend some time 
before, where we lodged both together in that place. 
He used me with friendship and indulgence, while on 
board of his vessel. Both cutters now steered for Dover. 
The captain of the large prize, which I had taken in 
the night, out of the English fleet, (had been liberated 
from irons, as had also all the English, after they had 
been retaken) made several attempts to kill himself, on 
account of his having been boarded and captured, by 
such a small pickaroon privateer; and which his own 
countrymen upbraided him with, having bragged only 
the night before he was taken, that he was able to take 
a French privateer of sixteen guns. They were obliged 
to confine him to his bed, and to put a sentinel over him, 
to prevent his committing suicide. 

At 10 o clock on the ad day after I was captured, we 
arrived at Dover, and came to anchor nearly abreast of 
the town ; which was soon after in an uproar, when they 
found that the person, who went by the name of John 
Dyon, commander of his majesty s cutter the Sur 
prize, * was taken a prisoner, and that he was then on 
board of a cutter lying off the town. The next morn- 

*The reader probably recollects that I assumed that name, when 
I commanded the Eclipse cutter of eighteen guns. This circumstance 
became known in England, and was published in the Gazettes. 

C2I73 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

ing the cutter s boat was ordered to be manned, and 
carry me on shore with my baggage, and the two lads 
taken with me. Accordingly we embarked on board of 
the boat, and the second lieutenant with us; and the 
boat s crew rowed towards the shore, and as they ap 
proached the key, which was covered with women, and 
appeared to amount to about two hundred, who had 
heard of my being captured, and who it seemed, by 
their conduct, were determined to execute the old Levit- 
ical law upon me, by stoning me to death. They threw 
stones at me as we drew near the quay, which flew so 
thick, and in such showers, that it was impossible for 
me to escape being hurt. And it surprized me very 
much, to hear the heroines cry out, Welcome, wel 
come, captain Dyon. These expressions were followed 
instantly by showers of stones, which pelted me so 
much, and so often repeated, as occasioned my head to 
swell to double its ordinary size, and caused it to be 
very painful ; and as good luck would have it, I had on 
at the time a glazed hat, (otherwise I should have been 
in the greatest hazard of losing my life,) which I 
pulled over my face, to prevent losing my eyes. And 
such oaths, imprecations and threats, as these heroines 
uttered at me, I never before heard proceed from the 
mouth of any human being. At length a guard con 
sisting of upwards of one hundred officers and soldiers, 
were sent express to disperse the mob; a part of which, 
after I landed, conducted me, and the two lads taken 
with me, to the fort, where we were examined by a 
young man about seventeen years of age, and com- 
misary for prisoners of war;* and a one eyed, surly 
looking fellow, who had been first lieutenant on board 

*Said to be, by the people in Dover, a certain nobleman s bastard. 

218] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

of the Rose sloop of war, commanded by that noted 
plunderer, J. Wallace, and a long time stationed at or 
near Newport, in the first part of the American revolu 
tion. 

This lieutenant boasted of his great knowledge of 
the American coast, from New Hampshire to Georgia; 
and said, that he knew the way in and out of every sea 
port, within those two extremities; and that he knew 
the bearings and distances from one cape or head land to 
another, all along that extent of sea coast. And I was 
afterwards fully convinced that he did know something 
of what he boasted, from the questions he put to me. 
His station here at present, was that of regulating cap 
tain at this port, and held his office under the king: and 
who was appointed to examine all the prisoners brought 
here, or into the ports near by, by his majesty s cruisers 
of all descriptions. And his universal knowledge of 
the American coast was (as I was told) the reason of 
his appointment under the crown in this place. 

The two lads were examined first, before the com 
missary and the regulating captain, and were by these 
last found to be Irish boys, and in consequence of 
which they were sent on board of the guard ship lying 
off Dover, and were afterwards hung, for being taken 
under an enemy s flag, and proved to be British subjects. 

I was then conducted into the presence of these two 
king s officers ; and at my first entrance into the room 
where they were, the regulating captain swore that I 
was an Englishman, and the commisary, after asking 
me a few questions, declared that I was an Irishman. 
The interrogatories which they intended to put on me, 
were already written down, and lying on a table before 
the king s officers. The first question which they put 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

to me was: Where were you born? When I had an 
swered it, they made a great deal of diversion to them 
selves; and the regulating captain told several yankee 
stories, relative to the town and the people, where I 
said I was born. They afterwards put a great number 
of other questions to me; such as, Is there a light-house 
at the mouth of New London harbour? Upon which 
hand do you leave it, in going into the same? How far 
is it from the light-house to the West end of Fisher s 
Island; and what course and distance? How far is it 
from the mouth of New London harbour to the mouth 
of the Connecticut river? Who was his majesty s col 
lector in New-London, before the rebel war broke out 
in America? &c. &c. 

To all of which questions, I gave such kind of an 
swers, as appeared to convince these officers, that I was 
really an American by birth. After this the commis 
sary told me, that I might be admitted upon my parole, 
if I chose it, but at the same time, advised me not to be 
paroled ; giving this as a reason, that if I was committed 
to close confinement, I should be so much the sooner 
set at liberty, by being exchanged. However, he told 
me I might choose which I pleased : and I chose to be 
close confined; and the commissary assured me, that I 
should have a small apartment in prison by myself, and 
should have the liberty of the yard, during every day I 
remained a prisoner: and he besides, pledged his word 
and honour, that I should go over to France in the first 
cartel vessel which should be dispatched from that 
quarter, and which he thought would probably go to 
Calais, in the course of eight or ten days, with prisoners. 
I also knew that if I had accepted of my parole, and 
had remained in Dover, that it was likely that my 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

boarding and lodging would have, in a short time, 
amounted to a considerable sum of money, as I had, 
after I first landed, paid at an inn half a guinea for my 
breakfast only; which consisted of a dish or two of 
coffee, a wheaten toast, and some dried beef, shreded 
up very thin. 

When I had gone through with my examination, I 
was dismissed from the guard-house, and was con 
ducted from thence by a corporal and four soldiers, to 
Deal, a small town situate at or near the mouth of the 
river Thames, about eleven miles from Dover. At the 
first of these places I remained a prisoner (but with 
every indulgence, as had been promised me by the com 
missary) only ten days. I was then exchanged, and ar 
rived in Dunkirk on the lyth day after sailing on my 
cruise,* where I found all my prizes safe (taken out of 
the fleet, as before related.) 

I now found the brig which was destined for me 
launched, but she was still in want of masts. I pur 
chased a quarter of her; and liking not to remain idle, 
I purchased a small lug sail privateer, which had just 
returned from a cruise, burthen about twenty-five tons, 
carrying six three pound cannon ; shipped my officers 
and men to the number of twenty-one; paid them the 
customary bounty, and sailed again on a cruise, the fifth 
day after my return to Dunkirk from my last cruise. 
The 2d day of this last cruise, off the Downs, I fell in 
with an English frigate (which had been captured 
from the French) called the Belle Poole, of twenty- 
eight guns, commanded by one Phips, and after a chase 
of ten hours she captured us; one of her boats soon 
boarded us, and I was sent on board of the frigate, 

* In this cruise I made to myself upwards of one thousand guineas. 

C22I] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

where I underwent an examination by almost every 
officer upon her quarter deck. The captain of the 
frigate presently after, as drunk as a beast, came upon 
the quarter deck, and insulted me in the most abusive 
and gross manner. He called me a d d Irish scoun 
drel; a d d Irish renegade rascal; and put his fist 

near my face several times. I had spirit enough to tell 
him, that he did not act like a gentleman, in abusing a 
prisoner, in the manner he did me. This nettled him a 
good deal, and he instantly ordered one of his officers 
to call the master at arms, who made his appearance 
soon after. The captain of the frigate then ordered 
this man to take that Irish villain, pointing to me, and 
put him in irons between decks, hands and feet; and 
let the rascal be fed upon nothing else but bread and 
water, (addressing himself to his first lieutenant.) I 
will punish the scoundrel. I was now dragged down 
upon the gun deck, and put in irons between a couple 
of guns, conformable to orders; but previous to this 
the master of arms, and others, stripped me of every 
rag of my cloathes which I then had on, in lieu of 
which they gave me a dirty frock and trousers. Besides, 
these fellows abused me very much; they even kicked 
me several times about my body, to make themselves 
diversion. I had with me at this time, a commission for 
the privateer, and my commission as a lieutenant in the 
French navy; which one of the lieutenants of the 
frigate read* in the presence of the captain and his 
officer and interpreted it to them as he read it; in doing 
which, they made a great deal of royal sport, and ap 
peared to be highly diverted; and the captain of the 
frigate, in order to finish this disgraceful scene of mirth 
*This officer understood the French language. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

and joy, took the commission out of the lieutenants 
hand, after he had done reading it, and run it in my 
face several times, and asked me, if I was not ashamed 
to wear a commission under the French scoundrels. 

There were on board of this frigate at this time as 
prisoners, three American captains, who had been cap 
tured by her, (masters of American merchant vessels) 
one of whom, by the name of Davis, (for damning the 
king) was dragged to the gang-way and whipped by 
one of the boatswain s mates, upon his naked back, three 
dozen lashes with a cat o ninetails, by order of this 
brute who commanded the frigate. My daily allow 
ance, while on board of her, was half a pound of wormy 
bread and one pint of water. The irons which I wore, 
especially those round my ancles, were too small, and 
occasioned them to swell badly; I often begged of the 
master at arms and other officers, to take these irons off 
my ancles and put on those that were larger; but in 
vain ; all the reply which any of them would make me 
to such a reasonable request was, that they wished they 
were smaller, and that I was not treated half bad 
enough; and that I ought to be punished more severely, 
for fighting against my lawful sovereign, and for ac 
cepting of a French commission. We will punish you, 
you Irish rebel. They would not allow me anything 
to lie upon, nor even a single rag to put under my head. 
In this situation I lay, hands and feet in irons, upon the 
naked quarter deck between two guns, six weeks, where 
I was almost eat up with vermin. They would drop 
down from the hammocks, which were suspended over 
me into my face by scores, and my hands were so con 
fined that I could not brush them off. The officers of 
the ship, as I learnt afterwards, would not allow any 

C223I1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

of the American prisoners on board to come near me; 
and the insult which I was obliged to endure during 
my confinement in irons, is beyond my power to de 
scribe; and why these swaggering Englishmen and 
others, sailing under the British flag, should upon sun 
dry occasions, insist that I was an Irishman, I never 
could tell ; for sure I am, that my pronunciation could 
not justify them in such a belief. 

One night when we were cruising between the Isle of 
Wight, and the coast of France, this frigate fell into 
the very centre of a French fleet of twelve sail of the 
line, a number of frigates, sloops of war and cutters. 
The English frigate, after attempting to escape, was 
captured and about twelve at night I was released from 
irons by some of the French officers who came on board 
to take possession of their prize. Never was I so much 
rejoiced in the whole course of my life, as upon this 
occasion. I now was sensible that I should have it in 
my power to revenge the insults that I had experienced 
from the dastardly English. At day light in the morn 
ing, the French admiral having heard of my sufferings, 
sent his own barge to transport me on board of the In 
vincible of ninety-eight guns, on board of which was 
the admiral (the Count de Guichen.) Arriving on 
board, I was introduced to him by one of his lieuten 
ants, into the great cabin; on entering, he arose from 
his seat, took my hand, which he shook heartily, and 
then caused me to be seated by him. I had still upon 
me the frock and trousers, which previous to this, the 
French officers wished me to exchange for a decent suit 
of wearing apparel; for which I tendered them my 
thanks; but at the same time, I told them that it was 
my choice to appear in the admiral s presence clad in 

[224;] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the garb which I then had on, and on which there were 
scores of lice. As soon as I was seated by the admiral, 
I hinted to him my situation on this score, and begged 
permission before I related to him my story, relative to 
the cruel treatment of the English towards me, that I 
might retire into one of the state rooms, in order to shift 
myself; which he consented to. In the mean time, a 
boat was dispatched from the admiral s ship, to bring 
on board the English captain, who had been put on 
board one of the other ships of the fleet. As soon as I 
had dressed myself I returned into the cabin, where I 
found the Count surrounded by several of the principal 
officers of the fleet; among whom I saw the English 
captain, who to be sure, looked very sad. I was then 
requested by the admiral to be seated and relate the 
usage which I had received from the English; which I 
did in French, and with as much conciseness as the 
nature of the subject would admit of; not forgetting to 
mention what the English captain said he would do 
with my commission. This occasioned the admiral to 
let drop some harsh expressions, in regard to the Eng 
lish captain s conduct, after I had finished my relation 
of the subject in question. The admiral demanded of 
the captain my commission; and which he produced, 
and handed to the Count; who, after minuting down 
my name, and the captain s threats, what he intended 
doing with it, handed it to me, and told me that what 
ever the English captain had done to me while a pris 
oner on board of the ship which he commanded, I had 
now his permission to order inflicted upon said captain, 
who now metamorphosed into the most abject, fawning, 
beggarly fellow which I ever beheld. I did not, upon 
reflection, make any use of the permission granted me 

[225] 



TANNING S NARRATIVE 

by the admiral, and thus my John Englishman went 
unpunished for his barbarous and cruel usage inflicted 
upon me. But the Count ordered him to restore to me 
all the effects which had been taken from me by him 
self, his officers or any of his ship s crew; and in default 
thereof, he was ordered to pay me the money to the 
amount of such effects, or so much as was missing; all 
of which was strictly complied with, on the part of the 
English captain; but I have reason to believe sorely 
against his will. 

I was directed by the admiral to do duty on board of 
his ship in the station to which my commission entitled 
me, during the cruise in the English channel, where we 
fell in with at one time, eleven sail of English ships of 
the line, to whom we offered battle, but they declined 
fighting, and we chased them almost into Spithead. At 
another time we saw thirteen sail of the line, and to 
these we offered battle for the space of a whole day, 
and after night set in they sneaked off, and the day fol 
lowing they took shelter in Plymouth, where they 
anchored; and off which port we continued three days 
in a line of battle, without being able to induce the Eng 
lish to get under way and engage us. The fleet, during 
this cruise, captured several English frigates, sloops of 
war, and merchantmen. 

The French admiral was about sixty years of age, an 
experienced commander, brave and intrepid, and was a 
man greatly beloved by his officers and men; and who 
was in the habit of calling them my children . And 
every day he made it a custom at dinner time, to go the 
rounds on board of his ship, among his people, who, 
(as is customary on board of ships of war) were 
divided into messes of eight or ten in each, and at each 

C226;] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

mess, while at dinner, he would ask them if their pro 
visions were good, and if they had enough. And almost 
always upon these occasions, he used to taste their soup, 
meats, and wine; which if not good and wholesome, 
which was seldom the case, he would order them to be 
served with such as was good. 

Our cruise being out, we put into Brest with a num 
ber of prizes, where we heard that a general peace 
would be proclaimed in the course of two months. This 
induced me to hurry my return to Dunkirk, from 
whence I expected to make a short cruise before such an 
event took place. Having this in view, I waited upon 
the Count de Guichen, and asked leave for a dismis 
sion from the navy, for only a couple of months, and 
which he granted me, after giving me a certificate for 
the time which I had served on board of the Invinci 
ble,* and by virtue of which, he said I could, at any 
time thereafter, call at the custom-house, or admiralty 
office in Brest, and receive my pay. Besides, the ad 
miral was pleased to give me a handsome recommenda 
tion, in a letter to the French minister of the marine 
department, and promises of future friendship. 

After this I set out for Dunkirk, and travelled with 
the greatest expedition by land night and day. When 
I arrived there, I found my owners had obtained some 
time before, spars for the brig s masts, and which I 
found got into the brig, and she nearly fitted for a 
cruise. The news of peace seemed to gain ground, 
which urged us to make the utmost dispatch in fitting 

*This ship of war was rated a ninety gun ship, but mounted 
ninety-eight, all brass pieces; those upon her lower gun-deck were 
forty-two pounders, French weight, nearly equal to forty-eight, Eng 
lish weight. 

2273 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

away the brig, which was ready for sea by the 3oth of 
December, and both officers and men had received the 
customary bounty or advance from the owners, and 
were all on board of the privateer; and we were in the 
act of casting off our fasts from the quay, and had our 
sails hoisted and set, when proclamation of the pre 
liminaries of peace, signed at Paris by the commis 
sioners, was made in the town of Dunkirk. By this 
event I lost at least five thousand guineas, which my 
shares in the brig and bounty money cost me (after 
deducting for my part, of what the brig and her war 
like implements brought at auction, after the peace). 

Another unforeseen misfortune happened to me 
about this same time, which was this : one evening while 
I was playing a game of back gammon, at the sign of 
the White Heart tavern, kept by one Williamson, two 
officers of justice entered the room, and arrested me in 
the king s name, and committed me to gaol, without 
letting me know what my crime was. I was well 
acquainted with both of these officers, and I took the 
liberty to ask wherein I had offended, but they did not 
make any reply. The next day I was interrogated by 
some of the officers of the admiralty, and soon after 
wards I was liberated from prison, and paid, in behalf 
of the king, fifteen hundred livres, as a compensation 
for being imprisoned unjustly; besides a very handsome 
apology was made to me by the commandant, who had 
ordered me to be arrested by the king s authority. 

The reader will, perhaps, wish to know the cause of 
my being thus arrested, which is as follows : during the 
second cruise which I made in the Eclipse privateer, 
we brought to a Danish neutral ship, in the English 
channel, bound from St. Croix to Copenhagen, and on 

[228] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

board of which ship was a French passenger by the 
name of Segeur, brother to Marquis de Segeur. This 
last was high in office under the French king: and be 
sides, one of his greatest favourites. The privateer s 
boat was ordered to board this neutral ship and ex 
amine her papers; and for this purpose I sent my first 
lieutenant,* and to him I gave strict orders (as has since 
been proved) not to molest or take anything from any 
passenger found on board, or to take anything out of 
the ship, if upon examination of her papers she proved 
to be a neutral vessel ; and such orders were not only 
given in this instance, but were always given by me to 
the officer and boat s crew, whenever they boarded a 
neutral vessel upon a similar occasion. The fact was 
that the first lieutenant as aforesaid, plundered the 
French passenger (Mr. Segeur) on board of the Da 
nish ship, of an elegant gold watch, and several other 
trinkets of considerable value; and which circumstance 
I was not acquainted with until after I was arrested in 
Dunkirk, as I have already mentioned. Some consider 
able time had expired after the foregoing transaction 
had taken place, when Mr. Segeur was on his way from 
Copenhagen to Paris, he stopped a few hours at Dun 
kirk to visit some of his acquaintance, and walking 
upon the quay, he saw the Eclipse privateer laid up in 

*This lieutenant was an American, the same who plundered the 
young Irish nobleman of a gold watch upon the Irish coast; he was 
tried, and condemned to be hanged, for robbing the French passen 
ger; and notwithstanding he was absent, yet the officers hung his 
effigy upon the gallows, erected upon the quay for that purpose, with 
as great a parade as if he had been present. The troops, officers, and 
others, assembled upon this occasion w r as estimated at five thousand. 
I forbear to mention this fellow s name, for two reasons; first he is 
dead ; and second, he has left a wife and children in Newport, Rhode- 
Island. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the bason; and notwithstanding she was stripped of 
most of her rigging, and dismantled of most of her 
guns and warlike apparatus, yet he knew her, and en 
quired who had been captain of her during her last 
cruise, and what were the names of his principal offi 
cers. After his arrival at Paris, he made a regular com 
plaint (which was joined by one of the Danish court) 
to the king s ministers; upon which orders were issued 
for arresting the captain of the Eclipse cutter, and all 
his officers and crew, if to be found in the kingdom of 
France, (the most of whom however, especially the first 
lieutenant, and those concerned in plundering the 
French passenger, knowing themselves to be guilty, 
had fled out of the kingdom, as soon as the cruise I have 
spoken of was finished.) Two of the boat s crew, who 
had been confederates with the lieutenant in this pilfer 
ing affair, were also punished by being whipped thirty 
nine lashes each, upon the naked back, and branded 
with the letter R. upon their shoulders; and thus ended 
this tragic business, and which caused me abundance of 
trouble, and perplexity of mind ; all through the agency 
of a person whom I had advanced from a state of beg 
gary, to be my first lieutenant on board of a privateer 
which I commanded; and for this, how did he requite 
my friendship and generosity? why, he lead me into 
the snare already described. He went from Dunkirk in 
the night, without taking his leave of any one, and was 
pursued by the Marachausses as far as 1 Orient, where 
he had embarked for the U.S. a few days before these 
officers of justice had arrived at that place. All his 
prize money was seized upon, and placed at the dis 
posal of the King s officers at Dunkirk. 

The ingratitude that this lieutenant was guilty of 

[230;] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

towards me, is perhaps without parallel in the history 
of our revolution.* I can say this much, in the presence 
of Heaven, that my conscience was perfectly free from 
guilt, in every part of my conduct toward neutral 
vessels, and neutral subjects, during the whole time 
which I commanded the Eclipse privateer. 

In consequence of the news of peace, an embargo 
was immediately laid upon all privateers in this port; 
and by this revolution in the times, I was now at leisure 
to go to the public amusements, which are here diversi 
fied, and to spend my money, which I had already re 
ceived at the custom house, amounting to twelve thou 
sand guineas: out of this sum, I had expended, previous 
to the peace, nearly one half in owning, and fitting out 
my proportion of several privateers from this place; 
and besides, I had advanced my countrymen, in dif 
ferent ports of France, and at different times; alto 
gether, five hundred and fifty guineas, who had fled 
from British bondage, to a country which was friendly 
disposed to the United States; but they found them 
selves among strangers. They were nearly naked, and 
without money; I therefore, assisted them with heart 
felt pleasure and satisfaction, and advanced them such 
sums as their necessity required.** 

I shall now attempt to give my readers a faint de 
scription of the town of Dunkirk, its inhabitants, their 
manners, &c. &c. It lies in lat. 51 deg. i min. N. and 
long. 2 deg. 15 min. E. and is a very populous town. 

* Since which I have frequently experienced the sin of ingratitude, 
from not only strangers, but near relations. 

**Out of the large sum which I advanced to so many I have never 
since received but 150 dollars from Capt. Manly; and 100 dollars of 
another person. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

The greater part of the inhabitants are Flemish or 
Fleminders; but none but those who are Frenchmen 
born, are allowed to fill any considerable posts under 
the crown. It is situated in the province of Flanders, 
and in the French Netherlands, on the English chan 
nel, at the mouth of the river Coin, fifty miles E.S.E. 
of Dover. This town in the year 1713, had an excel 
lent port, as I was informed, and was then very strongly 
fortified; with a dry dock, and other conveniences for 
ships of war; which were demolished, pursuant to the 
demands of the English, conformable to the treaty of 
Utrecht; since which time, only small vessels, such as 
cutters, brigs, galliots, coasting vessels, &c. can go in 
and out, in consequence of the shoalness of the water, 
at the entrance of the port. The town is walled in, but 
the walls are decaying, and tumbling down in many 
places, it could not in my opinion, at the present time, 
hold out three days siege, against a small regular army, 
if led on by an able and experienced commander. In 
the centre of the town stands a tower, said to be three 
hundred feet high, on the top of which with good spy 
glasses, may be discovered ships and other vessels, that 
go in and out of the river Thames, and which is of very 
great advantage to the owners of privateers, who reside 
here in time of war. Upon the top of this tower are 
displayed signals, which inform the inhabitants of 
vessels in the offing, what number, and whether friends 
or enemies, &c. There are but few of the people in the 
town but who are acquainted with the meaning of the 
different signals, as soon as they are hoisted. They have 
a long spying-glass upon the top of the Tower, (where 
there is a small house erected to shelter the persons who 
are upon the watch or duty, from the weather) through 

[232] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

which, it being of a superior kind, one may plainly see 
people walking near Dover castle. About one mile east 
of the town is situate the royal gardens, (so called) 
where there are a number of very delightful walks, and 
a great many magnificent statues of white marble. In 
these gardens there are always kept at the public ex- 
pence, an excellent band of music, consisting of about 
seventy persons. This music, especially in a still even 
ing, sounds very harmoniously; and I think excels the 
music at the public theatres, in any part of France 
where I have been. The manners of the Fleminders 
are coarse, rude, and disgusting to strangers; and they 
are for the most part, avaricious; there are notwith 
standing found among them, people who are very kind 
and hospitable to strangers. Among the last class of 
people, I formed during my residence at Dunkirk, a 
large circle of acquaintances; among whom I had some 
of the best friends I have ever found in any part of the 
world, (I do not mean here to except my own and 
nearest relations). The chief support of these people 
in time of peace is, coasting, fishing, and smuggling; 
and in time of war, that of privateering,* of which they 
are very fond ; they dress very mean, like the Dutch and 
Germans. The conveyance of all articles of any con 
siderable bulk, to or from any part of the country, 
within some hundreds of miles of this town, is in flat 
bottomed boats, some of which carry eighty tons 
freight; they are drawn up and down the canals with 
horses, which travel upon each side of the river, 
(where it is level) and go at the rate of from three to 

*They had fitted out from the port of Dunkirk alone, during the 
late war, one hundred and seventeen sail of privateers (great and 
small. ) 

233:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

five miles per hour; however, it must be noted, that in 
descending the canals the boats go much swifter than 
they do in ascending. There are attached to the largest 
of these boats, eight and sometimes ten horses, with 
ropes, and so in proportion to the smaller boats; but I 
observe they generally put on two extraordinary, in 
going up the river or canals, to great or small boats. I 
have travelled a great deal in this way; and I remem 
ber I was once on board of one of the largest, where one 
might have any thing he called for, the same as at a 
hotel or tavern. I here dined in state, with a number 
of gentlemen and ladies; and after dinner we had a ball 
in the dining room, while the boat was descending the 
river at the rate of five miles per hour. Boats which 
descend the river, are obliged to keep close to the shore 
upon one side ; and those which ascend, close to the other 
side of the river, so as not to interfere with each other. 
The Austrian Netherlands, a very considerable part of 
Germany, as well as this province, abounds with canals, 
and flat bottom boats; and in these boats, the people 
who travel, prefer doing it to any other way whatso 
ever. 

The manner of hanging criminals in France. 

The gallows being erected without the walls of the 
city or town, and a temporary platform or stage under 
it upon wheels. The people assemble in crowds around 
the place of execution. The grand bailiff, or high 
sheriff, ascends the stage, with the criminal, with a 
halter around his neck. The former then proclaims 
aloud to the surrounding multitude, that a hangman, 
or Jack Ketch is wanting; and expresses himself as fol- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

lows: Who will execute this person now to be hanged! 
(Par le Roy.)* Will any one do it? and for what 
price? Let him come forward, and mount the stage 
with me! Will he do it for one crown? Will he do it 
for two? will he do it for three! And so on, adding 
one crown more to every bid, till it often amounts to 
one hundred or more. And in fact, I once knew an in 
stance of the sheriff s giving five hundred crowns to 
procure a Jack Ketch; but this was an extraordinary 
instance, as it is quite common to procure one for ten 
crowns. As soon as the hangman mounts the stage, the 
bailiff descends from it, and the populace cry out bravo. 
The hangman then makes the halter fast to the gallows, 
adjusts the halter round the criminal s neck, and makes 
a signal with his hand, or handkerchief; a number of 
people at that instant, drag the stage from under the 
hangman and criminal; and the former jumps up on 
the shoulders of the latter, and they both continue 
swinging in the air for some time; during w 7 hich the 
hangman exercises himself with pounding the criminal 
in the stomach, and under the ribs, with first one knee 
and then the other, with all his might, till he is well 
assured that he is dead. He then lets go his hold and 
drops down upon his feet, goes to the high bailiff, who 
pays him the price agreed upon. The criminal, after 
hanging a couple of hours, is cut down and delivered 
to his friends. But I was told that the practice of de 
livering the body of a criminal, after he has been 
executed, to surgeons for dissection, so common in Eng 
land, is never done in France; and the people of this 
country look upon the practice with the greatest ab 
horrence. 

*By the king, or by the king s authority. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

The manner of hanging or executing criminals In 
Germany. 

A large post, planted in the ground, of about ten feet 
in height; at the foot of which, and upon the East side, 
two and sometimes three stone steps are placed for this 
purpose, which I saw near almost every town or city 
which I passed through in my travels in this country. 
The sheriff, the criminal, and the hangman, (for here 
it appears the hangman is engaged before hand) arrive 
at the post. The criminal then, with the assistance of 
Jack Ketch, walks up the steps, and the latter turns him 
round with his back against the post,* to which the 
criminal is secured with lines, so that he cannot move 
his body, or stir his hands or feet. The hangman now 
appears with his instruments of death in his hands; in 
one hand he holds a rope with the two ends spliced to 
gether, just long enough to reach, when doubled to 
gether, around both the post and the criminals neck, so 
that the two bites of the rope will meet upon the back 
part of the post. In the other hand he holds a toggle 
or short piece of wood, about as large, but not so long, 
as a common ax helve. Thus prepared, he waits for the 
signal to be given by the officer of justice. At the back 
of the post there is upon these occasions, a temporary 
stage erected, for the hangman to stand upon, in order 
to execute the criminal, and where he stands when the 
signal is given ; and when this is given by the officer of 
justice, by waving a white handkerchief in the air, the 
hangman instantly puts the rope around the criminal s 
neck and post, as before observed; and through the 

* In the post are scooped out hollow places for the back part of the 
head to fit into ; these are of different heights from the upper step. 

C236] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

bites of the rope he puts the toggle of wood, and then 
lays hold with one hand at one end of it, and the other 
hand hold of the other end, and twirls or twists it about 
w r ith the rapidity almost of a whirl-a-gig. In this man 
ner, the poor criminal is not long a dying; after which 
the body (a few minutes after execution) is cut away 
from the post, and delivered to the friends of the de 
ceased; and in some instances, the bodies of criminals, 
as in England, are delivered to surgeons for dissection. 
I never saw but one criminal hung in this way, and he 
was a Jew, who was executed near Ostend, for forgery; 
and when travelling in Germany, I was informed by 
the Germans themselves, that this mode of executing 
criminals, was generally practised throughout the em 
peror of Germany s dominions. 

In Dunkirk, as well as in all other towns in France, 
sales at auction are common, and in the king s name. 
Previous to which a sergeant, drummer, and two sol 
diers, with their arms, go through the streets, and make 
the tour of every square in the town or city where the 
articles are to be sold. The sergeant carries in one 
hand a printed list of said articles, and at the corner of 
every square, the drummer beats his drum, while the 
soldiers stand with their muskets and bayonets fixed for 
the space of a minute, when the sergeant flourishes his 
cane in the air, and proclaims aloud with an audible 
voice, Tar le Roy, and at the same instant pulls off his 
hat,* and reads over the articles which are to be sold, 
and names the time and place; after this he puts on his 

*Woe be to the man who is near the sergeant, who does not pull 
off his hat, on the sergeant s pronouncing the words Par le Roy. He 
would have a bayonet plunged into his body, for a neglect of lifting 
his hat when the king s name was pronounced. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

hat, and the drummer beats again for about the same 
space of time, when the sergeant makes another flourish 
with his cane; the drumming then ceases, and they 
march off to the next corner or street, and repeat the 
same manoeuvres, and so on, till they have gone 
through as above. 

On the 26th of July, I left Dunkirk for Paris, and 
went as far as the city of Lisle by water in one of those 
flat bottomed boats, which I have already described, 
and on board of which I was well accommodated for 
victuals, drink, (the best of claret, and other wines,) 
and lodging, as any one could be served with at a public 
inn. I arrived at Lisle in the evening, and put up at a 
celebrated hotel, which I found full of people, mostly 
foreigners. This city is very large and populous, and 
situate in lat. 50 deg. N. and in about the same long, as 
Dunkirk. Abundance of English people resort here 
in peaceable times; and where the English language is 
prevalent among the citizens of quality. There are a 
great many of the former who are inhabitants, and who 
had resided here for a number of years, and who are 
said to be very rich. This city is celebrated on account 
of its manufactories of rich laces of all kinds, and the 
best of any that are to be had in the kingdom. The 
citizens are kind and hospitable to strangers; their 
dwelling houses are neat and commodious, not very 
high, and no great shew of grandeur appears attached 
to them. The next day I proceeded on my journey 
towards the city of Paris; and travelled very rapidly 
in the public stages, with six horses to each, at the rate 
of twelve, and sometimes fifteen miles per hour; the 
public roads being excellent. They are very wide upon 
one side, and often in the middle they are paved with 

1:2383 



TANNING S NARRATIVE 

round stones, and travellers may have their choice, 
either to go up the pavement, or upon one side, where 
the road is not paved. Those in the stage or other car 
riages, have only to direct the coachman to drive along 
which of these they please, and the coachman will al 
ways comply; as they are, for the most part, very oblig 
ing and condescending to their passengers; and who 
generally pay him ten or a dozen sous each, at the end 
of each stage; (being from ten to twelve miles distance 
from each other) where the stage, horses, and coach 
man are shifted or relieved; at the entrance of the stage 
(which he is driving) to the next town or village, where 
the stage and horses are to be shifted; and until he ar 
rives at the very spot where this is to take place, he 
keeps up a particular kind of cracking and snapping of 
his whip to denote that he has got a generous set of 
passengers ; but if they should not be of this description, 
the coachman makes no cracking as above, with his 
whip. There are two different ways for persons to travel 
on horse back in this country; one is the King s Post, so 
called; and the other is called Les Postes de Matelots, 
(or the sailors post). The first furnishes the traveller 
with an excellent horse, a pair of large boots, which one 
can draw over his own with ease, a pair of spurs, and a 
servant or guide, who is mounted upon another horse 
of equal goodness; and thus equipped, one may go at 
the rate of eighteen miles per hour, or as much slower 
as he pleases. The Poste de Matelots furnishes misera 
ble horses, no servant or guide. For the first of these 
posts, it costs one six sous per mile, for horse hire; and 
for the last four sous. 

The internal regulation of the police in France de 
serves to be noticed. The grand superintendent of this 

039] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

institution resides in Paris, who has a great number of 
subordinate officers under him, scattered over the face 
of the kingdom. Besides these, there are several thou 
sand of what the French call Marachausses, and who 
are under the control, and receive their orders from the 
lieutenant of the police, or his subordinate officers. The 
greater part of these Marachausses are the younger 
sons of noblemen ; they wear an uniform of blue with 
red facings, red cuffs, red waistcoat and pantaloons; 
and upon the left sleeve of their coats just above the 
cuff; they wear a piece of gold lace, which extends 
round the arm of the coat, about an inch broad. These 
Marachausses are mounted upon excellent horses, 
armed with a pair of large pistols, a long broad sword, 
and sometimes a short light horseman s musket slung to 
their backs; and thus accoutred, their duty is to scour 
the public roads continually, to apprehend and secure 
highway robbers; to take up deserters and criminals 
who flee from justice, or who make their escape from 
gaols, &c. These Marachausses are sometimes called 
officers of justice; they are paid for their services by 
the king, which I am told is very considerable, enough 
to support them to live in the characters of gentlemen. 
They travel upon the public roads, two, four, six, and 
sometimes ten together; and in travelling which, you 
will scarcely ever be out of sight of some of them, as 
they ride night and day. And in consequence of this 
regulation, disguise themselves in such a manner, as 
not to be known by those whom they are in pursuit of; 
and this kind of police extends itself throughout the 
whole kingdom of France; insomuch that it is a rare 
thing to hear of a highway robbery being committed in 
this country; nor even the crimes of house-breaking or 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

shop-lifting, are scarcely heard of. And during my 
residence in France, I never once heard of a highway 
robbery or burglary being committed. 

It was on the a8th of July, 1788, at night, when I 
arrived at the city of Paris ; and the next day I visited 
and paid my respects to Dr. Franklin,* who then re 
sided at a small village, situate upon an eminence, be 
tween Paris and Versailles, which commands a pros 
pect delightfully pleasing to the eye. This pleasant 
village is called Passy, three miles distance from Paris, 
and about six miles from Versailles. The building in 
which the Doctor resides, with his secretaries, is a noble 
piece of modern architecture, large and commodious, 
and adjoining which is a beautiful garden. From this 
village may be seen nearly the whole of the city of 
Paris and its suburbs, and nearly three hundred walled 
towns, besides a great number of noblemen s villas, 
which have the appearance of so many palaces and 
country-seats, scattered over the country as far as you 
can extend the eye. Dr. Franklin received me without 
any ceremony, but with the kindness of a parent; and 
in this way he conducted himself towards all the Amer 
icans, whom he was in the habit of calling his children. 
I found in company with him, the marquis de la 
Fayette, and several other gentlemen ; and as soon as 
they were gone, (which was in about half an hour after 

*This is the man to whom Peter Porcupine gave the nick name of 
old lightning rod, and that he never filled a junck bottle full of elec 
trical fire in his life. Others also, who were always enemies to the 
United States, have followed Peter s example since the Doctor s 
death, in endeavoring to undervalue this eminent and able statesman, 
and to erase from the minds of the American people, his well earned 
and deserved popularity; which, notwithstanding the ravings of his 
enemies, will endure till time shall be no longer. 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

my arrival) the Doctor asked me to follow him into his 
study; and after being seated, he held a long conversa 
tion with me upon different subjects, and when I was 
about leaving him, he invited me to call and see him 
often, and gave me good advice, relative to the conduct 
which I ought to observe while I resided at Paris, and 
in the same familiar style as though he had been my 
father, and for which I shall always revere him as long 
as I live. At this time Dr. Franklin was highly 
esteemed, not only by the French, but by all the foreign 
ministers resident at the Court of France, and his levee, 
for numbers and respectability, every day exceeded that 
of the count de Vergennes, the king s favourite, and the 
American people s friend. After the first interview 
with this American sage and statesman, I called often 
upon him, and he always treated me with the same 
kindness and friendship as he did at my first visit. He 
was upon all occasions dressed remarkably plain, for 
which all classes of people esteemed him the more. I 
visited nearly all this great and populous city, where 
there were any natural or artificial curiosities to be seen, 
for several days successively. The Place Victoire, 
(place of victory) was among the first of curiosities 
which arrested my attention. It is near the centre of 
the city, and occupies about half an acre in a square 
form; and directly in the centre of this is a statue of 
Lewis XIV, standing upon a marble pedestal, with a 
truncheon in his right hand, the other clasped to his 
waist, represented in his royal robes, but without a 
crown on his head. An angel is represented as having 
a light, and one foot set upon his pedestal, and with his 
right hand is in the act of crowning this monarch with 
a laurel wreath, which he holds just above his head. 

[242] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

At each corner of the pedestal are represented four 
kings, which the French say, Lewis XIV. took prison 
ers in his wars, all at this monarch s feet in chains, with 
their crowns, coats of armour, and other badges of 
royalty, lying by them. This chef douvre is composed 
of bronse, a composition of metal, but resembles copper. 
This monarch is represented on horseback, as large as 
life. At another place the horse, and the king upon 
him, standing upon a marble pedestal, elevated about 
twelve feet from the pavement, at the place vendome. 
There is also nigh the old palace gates, a statue of a 
horse, and a representation of Lewis XV., mounted upon 
him upon a pedestal, at the four corners of which are 
represented four female figures, in allusion to the four 
cardinal virtues; but some say these represent his four 
mistresses, who were sisters, and were said to be great 
beauties ; but let this be as it may, this much is a known 
fact, that Lewis XV. with all his faults, was a monarch 
universally beloved by his subjects, during the whole 
of his reign; and for this substantial reason, he was 
called Lewis the beloved. These statues are also com 
posed of bronse. Not far from this are les champs 
Elisce, or Elysian Fields, containing about twenty acres 
of ground, planted with beautiful trees, and divided 
into the most delightful walks which I had ever seen, 
ornamented with the greatest variety of arbours, arti 
ficially made, and which are pleasantly shaded, and in 
which one may be accommodated with whatever one 
desireth, either eatables or drinkables. Here may be 
seen in the latter part of the day and evening, when the 
weather is clear and serene, several thousands of the 
nobility, gentry and others; who generally tarry here 
till it is time for the plays and operas to begin, which 

243] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

is at 6 o clock in the evening. However, a considerable 
part of this large company continue to amuse them 
selves in these delightful walks until 10, and often, if 
the evening is pleasant, till 12 at night. It is my 
opinion, which coincides with that of many others, that 
the city of Paris occupies more ground than London. 
The dwelling houses and public buildings are mostly 
higher, and the architecture better in the first men 
tioned than in the last. The streets, however, are not 
to be compared with those in London. They are here, 
for the most part, both narrow and crooked, and very 
dirty, and nothing to prevent people on foot from being 
run over by coaches, but that of sheltering one s self in 
the houses or shops, upon either side of the streets. 
Whereas in London, foot passengers can there walk 
upon each side of the streets on the flags, with the great 
est safety, as the pavements in that city are raised pretty 
high in the middle of the streets, in order to be dry; 
and on the right hand, and on the left of these, the pave 
ment is of flat stones, raised about eighteen inches 
above the common pavements; this accommodates those 
that are on foot. On account of the streets in this city 
being always so very dirty, the greater part of the male 
citizens wear black silk stockings, and which are al 
ways fashionable on the same account. The city is di 
vided into two parts by the river Seine, which after 
running about three hundred miles, empties itself into 
the English channel, near Havre de Grace, which is 
the nearest sea port to the capital of any in the kingdom. 
There are several old decayed palaces in this city, 
where the ancient kings of France used to reside. The 
display of riches in this city, are not to be compared 
with those to be seen in London. 

The duke de Charters has lately built a palace near 

[244] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the centre of the city, which has cost him an immense 
sum of money, and which is a very magnificent one, and 
far excels, in my opinion, that built by Lewis XIV. 
where the present king now resides, for elegance, 
beauty, and grandeur. But this is not to be wondered 
at, since, it is said, that the former is the richest prince 
in Europe. The comedies and operas are much grander 
here than in London; and the people who frequent 
these places are more magnificently dressed here, than 
those who visit such places in the last mentioned city. 

The Bastile, situate not far from the Thuelliries, is a 
large pile of buildings, and is a very strong fortress; 
said to be impregnable. It is in this castle where the 
prisoners of state are confined, and where I endeav 
oured to gain admittance, but without success. There 
are a great number of hospitals in the city, which are 
large and commodious buildings. Having entered 
several, I was not a little surprised to observe the clean 
liness and regularity of the sick in general, as well as 
every kind of conveniency in the inside of them, kept 
in a very neat manner. This I say, surprised me, be 
cause I never saw before among the French, anything 
respecting their victuals, household furniture, and the 
like, but was always in a very dirty condition. I visited 
the hospital where all such persons who have the vene 
real disease are admitted and taken care of. But from 
what I saw I rather think that many poor miserable 
wretches are brought here for the purpose of the 
French surgeons to try experiments upon. I was told 
that that whole number of these people in this hospital, 
which is a large and extensive pile of buildings, 
amounted to six thousand, of both sexes. Among those 
that I saw (excepting such as were confined to their 
beds) there was not a single one but what was de- 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

formed, and drawn out of their natural shapes from the 
effect of mercury. I saw one with his face turned over 
his back, where the back part of his head ought to be; 
another without a nose; a third without any eyes; a 
fourth his joints dislocated, &c. From such objects of 
horror and disgust I turned away my eyes, reflecting 
seriously upon what I had seen. After remaining in 
this hospital, till I was almost poisoned with the stench 
of these people, I retired from it and went into another 
called L Hospital D Enfans trouve (foundling hos 
pital,) so named, by its containing about seven thousand 
children who are fed, clothed, and educated till they 
are fifteen years of age, when they are set adrift in the 
wide world to seek a livelihood; all at the expense of a 
certain French noblewoman, whose name I have mis 
laid, as I had taken it down with a pencil at the time it 
was told to me. They are poor children, and the 
greater part of them are foundlings. There are num 
bers picked up in the streets naked as when they were 
born, almost every morning. 

The next thing which attracted my attention was 
seeing a fellow exceedingly well dressed, holding up 
the trail of a lady s gown, as she walked the street. This 
I supposed, was to prevent its being dirtied or soiled. 
Soon after I perceived the lady, on entering a house, 
give him something, which he received, made a low 
bow and retired. I asked my conductor what this 
meant; who laughing, told me there were a number of 
this class of men in the city, who lived upon the ladies 
Bounty;* that they all went genteelly dressed, wore 

*A lady generally gives to one of these fellows twelve sous for 
gallanting them from house to house; and in this kind of business 
they have full employ. 

C246 3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

their swords, and that they were maintained by the 
ladies of all ranks, who most commonly put themselves 
under their protection, while walking in the streets, to 
prevent being insulted by any one, and to preserve their 
silks and cloths from the filth, which always lies upon 
the pavements. These fellows are most intolerably 
proud and are called petit maitres, or little masters 
(coxcombs) . The dwelling houses in this city are from 
one to twelve stories high, built mostly with white hewn 
stones, and floors of marble, of different colours; in 
consequence of which it is a rare thing to hear of a fire 
in France, which often makes such destruction among 
wooden buildings in other countries. Versailles is a 
small town to the westward of Paris, where the palace 
of Lewis XVI. is built; and where the present royal 
family reside. It is a perfect square, except to the 
southward, where it is fenced or piqueted in, from one 
wing to the other across, with a double gate in the 
middle, which is open during the day time, but shut at 
night. Two grenadiers are generally posted here; and 
no person, except the royal family, can pass through 
this gate, without the pass word or countersign, named 
by the king. This palace is a large pile of buildings, 
and the architecture of the whole is magnificent and 
neatly executed. The enclosure between the two wings 
forms a square piece of ground, handsomely paved, 
where the king s life guard parade. When I arrived 
here I put up at the hotel near the palace gates, where 
I met with an old acquaintance, who had been in the 
French navy, a captain of one of the ships of the line, 
in the division of men of war, the admiral of which, 
was the count of Guichen, whom I have, in a few pages 
back, had occasion to notice. To this marine officer, 

247:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

(the captain) I mentioned the curiosity which I had 
to see the royal family, and who agreed to accompany 
me wherever I had a mind to go ; he was a young noble 
man, and was well acquainted at court. With this 
gentleman I set out from our lodgings, in order to visit 
the apartments in the palace, and to see the royal fam 
ily. Arriving at the gates, (my conductor having first 
obtained the pass word) the guard made some diffi 
culty about our entering the palace yard, notwithstand 
ing we mentioned the countersign; in consequence of 
which an explanation took place between my conductor 
and the officer of the king s life guard. The former 
told the latter that I was an American, and had been in 
the French service; and that I was led there merely 
out of curiosity to see the royal family, &c. After this 
he was so obliging as to accompany us to the king s 
chapel adjoining the palace, where I saw the king and 
queen, and dauphin, then an infant. The royal family 
had come into the chapel to hear mass, (it being Sunday 
morning) . The king is a very handsome man, about 
twenty eight years of age, dark complexion, about a 
middling size, corpulent body; and has an exceeding 
pleasant but majestic countenance. The queen is beau 
tiful in the extreme, has a Roman nose, light com 
plexion, and a pleasant countenance; but I am sorry 
to say, that her character for goodness, modesty, virtue, 
and other female accomplishments, necessary in a 
queen, does not bear the strictest scrutiny. And were 
I to relate all the anecdotes which I heard while in 
Paris, of her intrigues and voluptuousness with the 
men, it would compose a volume; particularly her in 
constancy to the king. Some even go so far as to say, 
that the count D Artois, his youngest brother, is the 

[248:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

father of the present dauphin of France. At a short 
distance from Versailles is an island, either in a lake or 
situate in a bay, contiguous to the river Seine. However, 
let this be as it may, there is certainly such an island, 
and to which the queen has given the name of the 
Island of Love. To this island she often resorts with 
some of the loosest characters of the ladies of the court, 
for the purpose of bathing; the count D Artois as her 
gallant, and other gentlemen for partners of the ladies.* 
I forbear to say anything more upon this subject; but 
leave the reader to make his own reflections. From the 
king s chapel we proceeded on to the great hall of 
audience, and through the other apartments in the 
palace; from whence we visited the royal gardens, and 
a pond of water near by, in which were represented 
Tygers, Lions, and a great variety of other savage 
beasts, and various kinds of serpents. These were con 
tinually spouting water out of their mouths into the 
air, several feet upwards, which made a roaring noise, 
resembling the fall of a rapid water. Near these water 
spouts is a delightful walk, where I again saw the royal 
family, with several gentlemen of the court; among 
whom was the count D Artois, and the count de Ver- 
gennes. The former is a much handsomer man than 
the king, and appeared to be several years younger. 
The palace at Versailles is situate upon an eminence, 
which, together with the palace, was built by order of 
Louis XIV. and is said to excel any other in the known 
world. I was told by the officers of the king s life 
guard, that the spot of ground where the elegant palace 
now stands, was formerly a piece of low sandy land, 

*The queen, upon these occasions, acts the part of Venus, as the 
leading goddess of the company. 

[249] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

and that the expense of raising the ground only, on 
which it is founded, cost the French government several 
million of livres. The dwelling houses of the village 
of Versailles are not so high nor elegant as those at 
Paris; nor are they so crowded with families. In the 
latter place, the houses are fourteen stories high, in 
most of which there are a family in each story. 

On the 9th of August, I returned to Paris, and waited 
upon his excellency Dr. Franklin, who gave me a pass 
port for 1 Orient. The next day I paid my respects to 
Mr. Barckley, consul general of the United States; and 
with whom I left a power of attorney to collect monies 
due to me from merchants residing in Morlaix and 
Dunkirk. After having finished my business with him, 
I agreed for a seat in the public stage, and set out for 
POrient, and in four days I arrived at that place, and 
engaged a passage on board a king s packet, a ship 
mounting four carriage guns, which in the late war 
mounted twenty-two. While I was here waiting for 
the packet to get ready for sea, I was attacked with the 
ague and fever, and which I did not get rid of till we 
had put to sea. 

I shall now, as having some leisure moments, take 
some notice of the manners and customs of the French 
generally. The unmarried ladies in this country I cer 
tainly think much handsomer than the single ladies in 
England, though more giddy and volatile, which in my 
opinion, they carry to too great an extreme; particu 
larly in their dancing assemblies, a diversion of which 
they are remarkably fond. The ladies in France have 
no tea parties, as in England and the United States. 
They however, meet together in companies* at each 

*In the afternoon and generally spend the evening. 

C 250:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

other s houses, and after chatting a while, the company 
is served with some delicious cakes, fruit, &c. and a 
few glasses of French cordials of a superior kind. This, 
instead of tea, constitutes their repast, and which is far 
wholesomer than that article. The French ladies and 
gentlemen commonly make their breakfast with wine, 
bread and butter; and sometimes they add to these 
sallad, garlic or onions. Their heartiest meal in the 
twenty-four hours is supper. They have a method of 
hanging up poultry of all kinds after it is killed, and 
before the entrails are taken out, and letting it hang 
until it is quite green before it is cooked. They say it 
makes fowl and other poultry more tender and easier 
to digest; which mode, I must confess, I do not like. 
Another mode is quite common among these people; 
and that is, stuffing a leg of mutton or veal full of garlic 
before it is roasted this I did not much approve of. I 
have seen many a French man make his dinner or 
supper out of bread, wine and sallad, and sometimes 
soup alone; when at the same time there has been 
twenty meat dishes and f ricasees on the table at which 
he sat. The French are, notwithstanding these little 
peculiarities, a hospitable, generous, and kind people, 
especially to strangers. As proof of this, I have travel 
led many a mile in France without paying one sou for 
victuals or drink; and upon these occasions, I had only 
to shew the people wherever I called or put up, my 
passport, in which I was generally called an American, 
and they would absolutely refuse to take any pay from 
me, either for victuals, drink, or lodgings. 

They have a custom, which takes place once a year, 
in all the large populous cities and towns of this coun 
try; which, if I mistake not, is sometimes in the month 

1:2513 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

of April, when a representation of the trial, crucifixion, 
and resurrection of our Saviour is made; but any de 
scription which I could give, would fall short of the 
real scenes exhibited upon this occasion. The reader, 
therefore, is desired to be content with the following 
outlines : 

At the commencement of this solemn scene, a tem 
porary building is generally erected upon the public 
square, in which the judge, representing the person 
who passed sentence of death upon Jesus Christ, sits in 
a superb chair richly ornamented; the trial then com 
mences, and lasts two or three hours, during which 
there are persons who act their different parts, so as to 
represent all those who were any way accessory to his 
death, or who had been his followers, and so on to the 
committing of his body* to the place of burial. After 
the resurrection, a grand procession is formed of all 
ranks of people, the Roman Catholic priests in the front, 
one of whom carries in his hands a large silver font or 
vessel, in the form of an urn, in which is the Host. In 
or near the centre of the procession, is carried upon 
men s shoulders, a most magnificent pavilion, in which 
are seated several images; but who they represent I 
know not. And besides, owing to the curtains at the 
sides and ends, which are partly drawn together, I had 
but a slight view of these images, and I always upon 
such an occasion, withdrew into some house, to avoid 
the crowd and shun the soldiers. The whole of the 
military in the town or city w r here this show is ex 
hibited, are obliged to attend, except such as are unable 
to walk. The young ladies from six years old and up- 

* Which is made of sundry materials, so as to have the appearance 
Df a man. 

C 252:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

wards, are for the most part dressed in white, upon the 
occasion. The procession moves on slowly without any 
music, the citizens in the middle of the street, and the 
soldiery upon each side of them, which crowds the 
street quite full of people. The soldiers march with 
their muskets and bayonets fixed. And woe be to the 
person at such a time, who should not drop upon his 
marrow bones in the street, muddy or dusty, it makes 
no difference; down he must kneel, and there remain 
in that posture, until the greater part of the procession 
is past; or have a bayonet through his body. And I 
was told, that soldiers upon such an occasion, have or 
ders to kill every one who neglects to kneel. 

After the procession has gone through the principal 
streets of the city or town, as the case may be, which 
sometimes takes up almost a whole day, they return to 
the place from whence they first set out, and the people 
disperse to their respective homes, where they spend 
the rest of the day, and part of the night following, in 
congratulations and rejoicings; and which is in some 
places kept up for two or three days and nights suc 
cessively. But what becomes of the images after the 
procession is over I was not able to learn. 

The winters, in the northern parts of France, are not 
in my opinion, so cold, nor does the snow fall so often, 
nor so deep as in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 
same season of the year; and I never saw the snow two 
inches deep on a level, even in Dunkirk, the most north 
erly part of France, during my residence there part of 
three winters; nor are the frosts so severe in the last 
mentioned place, in that season, as they are in Charles 
ton. 

The French are remarkably fond of their king, so 

C253] 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

much so, that they almost worship the mere sound of 
his name. They generally say he is the best which they 
ever had, not even excepting Henry IV. 

I have often heard the English say, that the French 
were great cowards, particularly their sailors. In re 
ply to which, I say it is not true. On the contrary, I 
assert, that they are as brave and courageous as the 
English sailors, or any others, be they of what nation 
they may. I have been an eye witness to their bravery 
in many instances. While I was cruising in French 
privateers, I used to make it a rule in stationing the 
men to the carriage guns, to put the French sailors to 
gether, and the American sailors also together; that is, 
to place, say five French to one gun, and the same num 
ber of Americans to the next; and so on in this way, 
there would be Frenchmen to every other gun ; and in 
time of action, I always noticed, that the French be 
haved with as much courage and bravery, and fired 
their pieces as often as the Americans; and in several 
bloody battles that I was in, I never once saw a French 
man flinch or desert his quarters; but I have, at the 
same time, seen many an Englishman desert his. 

On the 3Oth day of Sept. I embarked on board of the 
French ship which I had agreed to go to the United 
States in, and paid the captain twenty-eight guineas for 
my passage and stores. In the after part of the day we 
set sail for New- York, with a fair wind. There were 
a number of ladies and gentlemen; among the latter 
was a Mr. St. John, French consul general for the 
states of New- York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, a 
man of about sixty years of age, and who spoke good 
English; a Frenchman, vice consul for the state of 
Virginia, and his lady; a Mr. Thatcher, an American, 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

who had been secretary to an American Ambassador; 
and another American, by the name of Robinson, with 
whom I had served on board of the Alliance frigate. 
Both of us at that time were midshipmen on board of 
that ship. The third day after we left 1 Orient, which 
was the day that my ague and fever ought to have re 
turned, (having what is commonly called the third day 
ague,) I did not experience another attack, and from 
this time it entirely forsook me; and from that time we 
had a very pleasant and agreeable passage, until we got 
soundings upon the back of Long-Island, in 60 fathoms 
of water; after which, until our arrival, we had re 
peated gales of wind, and the weather was very cold 
and boisterous. The greater part of the French sailors, 
were unable to do duty, on account of being afflicted 
with the foul disease, in consequence of which they 
could not endure the cold, and the fatigues of a watch, 
and we were driven off the coast several times. Mr. 
Robinson and myself were now called upon to keep a 
watch, take our turn at the helm, and to do duty on 
board of the ship as seamen until our arrival, for which, 
we were promised, by Mr. St. John and the captain, 
that we should have the money, which we paid the lat 
ter in 1 Orient, remitted us on the arrival of the ship in 
any port of the United States.* Although we per 
formed the services required of us night and day faith 
fully, so much so, that Mr. St. John, whenever it blew 
a gale, would not let us sleep below in our state-rooms, 
even when it was our watch below; and at such a time 
he was so timid, that he would not be content unless 
we were both upon deck; making it a point, which he 
never deviated from, when the wind blew fresher than 

*This promise was never fulfilled. 

[2553 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

a common wholesail breeze, to keep a constant thump 
ing at our state room doors, until he urged us to turn 
out and go upon deck; calling us his dear children, 
good fellows, &c. At this time there were only three 
French sailors on board of this ship who did their duty, 
out of fourteen. When the topsails were to be reefed, 
or sail taken in, Robinson and myself were obliged to 
take the lead, and the bulk of such duty fell upon us; 
and in bad weather, one of us was under the necessity 
of taking the helm. And when we arrived, our hands 
were so sore, in consequence of such severe duty, which 
we had been compelled to perform, that we could 
scarcely touch a rope. They talked of bearing away 
for the West Indies, several times ; and where the cap 
tain of the ship would have directed her course, had it 
not been for our assistance. 

About the middle of November, we descried in the 
Western board, the first division of the British fleet, 
from New- York, with troops on board. Soon after, we 
spoke with several of them; out of one of which we 
got a New- York pilot, which was a lucky circumstance 
to him, otherwise he must have gone to Halifax, 
whither the fleet were bound. We were then upon the 
southernmost part of the south shoal of Nantucket 
Island. Four days after we arrived at the Hook. No 
pen, I am sure, could describe the joy I experienced in 
once more beholding my native Land. The next day 
we proceeded on to New- York; passed the British fleet 
of men of war, and transports,* wearing a French en 
sign and pendant, and came to anchor in the East River, 
opposite the city. We had just got our sails handed, 

* These lying at Staten Island. 

: 256:3 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

when a boat from the British admiral s ship* came 
along side of our ship, with a lieutenant in her; he came 
up the ship s side, and asked in an arrogant and 
haughty style, where the captain was; who, hearing, 
made his appearance upon the quarter deck. The lieut. 
then asked him, how he dared to wear his pendant, when 
he saw the admiral s flag flying below. The French 
captain replied, that he had nothing to do with the 
British admiral; he knew nothing about him, nor did 
he care any thing about him ; his business was with the 
American commander in chief, in New- York. Won t 
you order your pendant hauled down then? says the 
lieutenant. No, replied the French captain. Then 
I 11 find a way to make you, and that very soon 
too, replied the lieutenant. And after pronouncing 
these words, he descended the ship s side ladder, 
stepped into his boat, and returned to the British fleet. 
In the interim, the French captain went on shore, and 
got permission of the American commander in chief, 
who, I think, at that time, was the great Washington, 
to wear his pendant; and felt entirely secure in braving 
the threats and future conduct of the British. Accord 
ingly, he paraded his marines upon the quarter-deck, 
consisting of ten in number, with arms in their hands, 
and ordered them to shoot the first man who attempted 
to haul the pendant down. The passengers and sailors 
upon this occasion were also armed; and we were re 
solved to give the British a warm reception. The Eng 
lish lieutenant soon after came along side again, ac 
companied by another boat; both were full of men, and 
appeared to be well armed. He did not come out of 

*I think the admiral s name was Digby, who then commanded 
the fleet. 

057:1 



FANNING S NARRATIVE 

the boat this time; but told the captain, that it was the 
admiral s orders, that the pendant in question, should 
be hauled down. The French captain said, Very well, 
haul it down, if that is your orders. The lieutenant 
then ordered some of his people to haul it down. When 
they had got upon the ship s gangway, the marines 
presented their pieces at them; when they skulked into 
their boats again, and after a few threats from the lieu 
tenant, the boats returned from whence they came, and 
the French ship continued to wear her pendant. 

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