Saturday, July 30, 2011


The following story was told by James Moore, father of a one-time Attorney General of NC, B. F. Moore and included in History of Halifax County.

"In 1775-6, enlistments were made in the neighborhoods where the musters were held, and I was very anxiously concerned because I was not of the age required for a soldier (i. e. 16). At this time I was only ten or eleven years old, and during a part of the period from thence till I reached the required age, I was at school; but as soon as I was sixteen, which was in 1781, the year in which Cornwallis was taken, I entered on board a privateer schooner called the Hannah, which sailed out of Edenton on an eight weeks' cruise.

"Our captain's name was Kit Gardiner, an Englishman by birth. William Gold, of Connecticut, was lieutenant, and Daniel Webb, of South Quay, Nansemond County, Virginia, was first prize master.

"We sailed in March from Edenton and crossed the Ocracoke bar and soon was in the Gulf Stream with heavy surges. We sprung our bowsprit and put into Beaufort harbor and put another in. From there we sailed and cruised off Charleston, [South Carolina], took four prizes and condemned three. The fourth was a Bermudian, a neutral, and he had two sets of consignments, one for a British port and the other for an American, by which means she was cleared at Wilmington, N. C.

"The first prize was a schooner from Cork, Ireland, to New York. She was taken first by a privateer out of Philadelphia and retaken by the Charleston frigate. This frigate was built in Newburyport, fifty miles eastward of Boston (I was shown the spot where it was said she was built) and was called the Boston. She happened to be in Charleston when the British took that city, and they changed her name and called her Charleston. After her capture she was their regular packet from Charleston to New York.

"In our cruise, we took a schooner called the Lord Cornwallis, laden with Governor Martin's effects. He was Governor of South Carolina and became traitor; and when laying in provisions against the siege, he caused the barrels to be filled with sand instead of pork.

"The second prize was from New Hampshire laden with salt and garden seeds, such as peas, beans, etc. I was put aboard of her. Our place of rendezvous was Beaufort,[Carteret County], N. C. Now as we took the vessel near Charleston, the port to which she was bound, it was reasonable to suppose that her provisions were nearly exhausted, which was the case.

"With these, we undertook to make Beaufort, but instead of that, the first port was Newburyport, … and, sixteen days after, we were tossed and carried by contrary winds, going all around the different capes till we were off the Banks of Newfoundland and in view of the Agamenticus Hills, whose appearance, when seen at sea, is like three burly-headed clouds. We sailed along thence and arrived at Newburyport, sold our cargo (salt) at one dollar a bushel, and I received what the prize master saw fit to allow me, which was four dollars only."

In 1775, as the 13 colonies went to war with Britain, George Washington turned the fishing schooner Hannah into a privateer. She was the first of eleven ships eventually charterred to aid in the war. During the American siege of Boston, "Washington's Navy" captured 55 prizes which provided much needed supplies for the revolutionary cause.

Sources: History of Halifax County, by William Cicero Allen, 1918. A Google book.


  1. The Hannah commissioned by GW in Beverly, MA in 1775 is not the same vessel as the one which sailed from Edenton. The model shown is of the MA Hannah, not the NC Hannah.

  2. I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Thank you for telling me I have the wrong ship!
    I like to include illustrations if I can, but not the wrong ones!