Lot 1542

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(CONTINENTAL NAVY) CAPTAIN OF THE USS RANGER THOMAS SIMPSON Continental Navy first lieutenant aboard the sloop-of-war USS RANGER under JOHN PAUL JONES (1747-1792), later captain of that ship. Rare and interesting war-date autograph endorsement, 1p. 5 3/4 x 2 3/4 in., [n.p.], May 10, 1779, on the verso of a receipt, dated April 25, 1779, for reimbursement of expenses, time, and horses supplied to Ebenezer Dearing '... to carey Leters from Thomo Simson esq to the Navey Bord at Boston...', payable by Continental Navy agent JOHN LANGDON (1741-1819). Simpson has endorsed the verso, in full: 'Sir, please to pay the within bill for the Ship Ranger, Y[ou]r humble Serv[an]t, Thomas Simpson'. Original folds, ragged edges, else very good. After fitting out, the RANGER sailed from France in November 1777, bringing word of British Gen. John Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga to the American commissioners in Paris. After completing this task, the RANGER began a career of harassing ships in British home waters. She raided the port at Whitehaven and captured the 14-gun sloop HMS DRAKE. During this cruise, Simpson fell out of favor with the RANGER's Captain, John Paul Jones, who viewed his friendly relationship with the Portsmouth-raised officers and crew with suspicion. Eventually Simpson's actions at Whitehaven and as prize-master of the DRAKE, along with the captain's conflicts with his rebellious crew, led to Captain Jones accusing Lieutenant Simpson of mutiny and ordering his arrest in France. Fortunately for the lieutenant, the officers and crew rallied to his defense and American Commissioner to France Benjamin Franklin ensured that Simpson escaped Jones' wrath by placing him in command of the homeward-bound RANGER and offering the ambitious Jones command of the BONHOMME RICHARD. In early March 1779, Simpson next sailed the RANGER in company with Continental Navy ships USS WARREN and USS QUEEN OF FRANCE. The three vessels captured eight prizes in the North Atlantic before returning to Portsmouth in April 22, 1779. No doubt the letters that Ebenezer Dearing carried to the Navy Board at Boston three days later included Captain Simpson's report on this highly productive cruise. The RANGER sailed to Boston and joined company with the USS PROVIDENCE and the QUEEN OF FRANCE. The RANGER and her companions captured eleven enemy vessels, 'part of the Jamaica Fleet', off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Although only eight of the prizes were brought into Boston, they sold for over one million dollars. In command of the sloop-of war RANGER for her last voyage, Continental Navy Captain Thomas Simpson departed for Charleston, SC on November 23, 1779. The ship was surrendered there on May 11, 1780 when the city fell and was taken into the British Navy as the HMS HALIFAX. Simpson would later command the privateer ALEXANDER, with many in her compliment of 150 men sailors who were loyal to him since first enlisting on the RANGER four years earlier. Documents pertaining to the Continental Navy are far scarcer than those related to the Army.

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December 9, 2021 10:00 AM EST
Chesapeake City, MD, US

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

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$100 $499 $20
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000 + $10,000