USS Revenge II

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Revenge II

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Revenge II

(Cutter: cpl. 106; a. 14 6-pars., 22 swivels)

The second Revengc was purchased at Dunkirk, France, for Continental seryice in the spring or summer of 1777 by William Hodge, an agent of the American commissioners to France, Benjamin Franklin and Silas Dean.

The British Ambassador to Paris complained that the ship had been fitted in a French (and supposedly neutral) port, but Hodge circumvented the diplomatic objection by a feigned sale of the cutter to an English subject, Richard Allen. Revenge departed Dunkirk, on 17 July 1777, ostensibly for Bergen Norway; but, as soon as she was at sea, Capt. Gustavus Conyngham, the "Dunkirk Pirate" who had recently preyed upon British shipping in Surprise, took command, hoisted Continental colors, and headed for the North Sea. Four days later Revenge captured a large schooner, the Happy Return; and, on the 23d, made a prize of the brig Maria. Since British warships were nearby and threatening during both captures Conyngham burned the prizes. Brig Patty was brought to on the 25th and ransomed. These Continental successes, so close to the shores of England, sent London insurance rates skvrocketing and inhibited British trade.

On the 26th, Revenge stopped Nortizampton; but that brig was recaptured before she could reach port for condemnation proceedings.

For 2 months Revenge remained at sea cruising off northwestern Europe and the British Isles before she put in at Kinehead on the northwestern coast of Ireland to repair her bowsprit and to replenish her casks of fresh water.

Conyngham, who had been sending his prizes to ports in Spain, now himself headed for the Bay of Biscav, putting in at El Ferrol. In the coming months, Revenge made several cruises from Spanish ports and captured many prizes. On one of the cruises, Conyngham transited the Straits of Gibraltar and operated in the Mediterranean; and, on another, he sailed to the Azores and the Canary Islands.

But, word of the cutter's great success reached British ears
and the Admiralty ordered lE;nglish warships to find and destroy her. Moreover, as Revenge's fame spread, British diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on the Spanish court to bar her from Spanish ports. Conyngham quietly refitted the ship in a small Spanish port and sailed for the W'est Indies on 1 September 1778. Upon reaching Martinique, Revenge had captured 60 British vessels, destroying 33 and sending 27 to port as prizes.

A cruise in the Caribbean added several other ships, ineluding two British privateers, to her score before Revenge arrived at Philadelphia on 21 February 1779, laden with arms and munitions for the Continental Army in South Carolina. The cutter was sold at public auction by an act of Congress of 12 March 1779.

Soon after the sale to a firm of Philadelphia merchants for service as a privateer, Revenge operated briefly under charter protecting shipping on the Delaware.

The cutter sailed from the Delaware Capes in April, in quest for prizes. Conyngham was again the Revengers commander and, now, her part owner. However, luck had changed for the ship. While chasing two privateers off the New York coast, Revenge was taken by British man of war, Gallatea on 27 April 1779.