Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

A leaf from the logbook of the frigate U.S.S. Alliance, a manuscript document, 2pp. folio, "bound from St Pierre towards the Havannah", Jan. 15-18, 1783, documenting part the Continental frigate's final mission to Cuba to carry a precious cargo of gold coins for the use of Congress. That mission would result in the last naval engagement of the American Revolution. Originally named Hancock when her keel was laid down in Amesbury, Mass. in 1777, the Continental Congress renamed the 36-gun frigate as the U.S.S. Alliance in May 1778. The ship's first mission was to carry Lafayette back to France to solicit increased support from the French government. When she arrived in France, Benjamin Franklin ordered her to join a squadron commanded by John Paul Jones and participated in the capture of the Serapis. After returning to America in 1780, John Barry took command of the frigate operating in the Atlantic for much of 1781 and 1782. After fitting out in France in the fall of 1782, Barry departed for the West Indies on December 9, arriving in Martinique on Jan. 8. There Barry received orders to sail to Havana to carry a large quantity of gold to deliver to Congress. The log sheet covers the period after Barry left Martinique en route to Havana. In the afternoon of Jan 15, the Alliance, "stood in for St. Eustatia where "A Number of Gentleman came on Board" and by eleven that night they had departed the ship. The next morning, Barry again set sail and in the afternoon "spoke with a Sloop fro[m] Totola bound to St Eustatia" By the next morning, the frigate was "At Meridian the East End of Porto Rico..." when the crew heard a gun shot to which they responded with "a Number of shot at her". The attacker "Hoisted French Colours" as a ruse "and fired Several times at us at 1/2 Past 2 PM" They then spotted eleven ships that soon gave chase. Fortunately for Barry's frigate, the weather grew "Squally with Rain... made the Ships to Leeward of us tacked Ship & stood towards the Southward At 6 AM bore away" The ships were most likely British warships, but could have been privateers as well. At dusk, the watch "Saw two sail bearing South & one bearing NE of us the Ship that bore NE gave us chase" Barry arrived in Havana two weeks later only to find that the USS Duc de Lauzun had arrived with the same orders and was loaded with the cargo of gold. Barry decided to escort the ship home. Off Cape Canaveral, Florida in March 1783, they encountered three British warships. Barry successfully engaged the HMS Sybil in the last naval action of the American Revolution. Indeed, the final peace treaty had been approved on Feb. 3, 1783, five weeks prior to Barry firing the final shot of the Revolutionary War. A few chips at margins with minor loss to a few words in text, light toning and soiling, else very good.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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