Lee Sch


( Sch: t. 74; a. 4 4-pdrs:, 2 2-pdrs., 10 swivels. )

In October, 1775, Col. John Glover, acting for General Washington, chartered the schooner Two Brothers from Thomas Stevens of Marblehead, Mass., as a replacement for Hannah. Her complement complete, 28 October, Capt. John Manley dropped her down with the tide, lay to off Tuck Point, and headed out to sea the next morning. On 27 November, the vessel, now known as Lee, took her first prize, the 80 ton sloop Polly carrying turnips and Spanish milled dollars from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the British troops at Boston. After sending Polly into Beverly under a prize crew, Lee sailed off Boston, and at dusk the next day gave chase to the 250 ton brig Nancy, then beating her way into Boston. Mistaking Lee for a pilot boat Nancy laid her sails aback and sent up a string of signal flags. Captain Manley dispatched a boat with carefully picked men, ordering them to conceal their weapons as they rowed to and boarded Nancy. Taken by surprise, the brig surrendered without resistance, providing the Americans with a precious cargo of ordnance and gunpowder. Manley placed a prize crew in Nancy and accompanied her to Beverly.

Early in December, Lee was again giving chase, intercepting the 200-ton ship Concord laden with drygoods and coal. After capture, Concord was escorted into Marblehead Harbor. The next month Capt. Daniel Waters relieved Captain Stanley. On 29 January 1776, while operating with Franklin Lee took the 6-ton sloop Rainbow, carrying wood, potatoes, spruce beer, and meat. The next day the American shooners and their prize were sighted by the British frigate Fowey. After a fast chase, the Americans eluded the frigate and, v.ith their prize, reached safety in Cape Ann Harbor. Lee and Franklin soon slipped out to sea again, taking the 300-ton, Boston-bound brigantine Henry and Esther, carrying military cargo, northeast of Cape Ann on 1 February.

Early in March, Bancock and Lynch Joined Lee and Franklin off Cape Ann. On the night of the 4th, the schooners drove off British brigalope in a spirited engagement. The next day they took Susannah, a 300 ton British merchantman laden with coal, cheeses, and porter for General Howe's beleaguered army in Boston. After escorting their prize to Portsmouth, N.H., the squadron, commanded by Captain Manley in Hancock, returned to Cape Ann, where on the 10th they captured another ship the 300-ton transport Stokesby, bound for Boston with porter, cheese, vinegar, and hops. En route to Gloucester, the prize ran aground. After much of her cargo had been removed, British brig Hope arrived and put the torch to the hulk.

While Manley's squadron was at Gloucester, General Howe evacuated Boston and General Washington ordered his ships to dog the British Fleet, pouncing on any stragglers. The patriot schooners departed Gloucester 21 March, and sighted a merchant brig o~ Boston Light that afternoon. They chased their prey and by evening were close enough to open fire. Their quarry then hove to, but two British men-of-war, Savage and Diligent, arrived to compel the American schooners to abandon their prize.

Soon afterward, Manley divided his squadron, keeping Lynch and Lee with Hancock. On the afternoon of 2 April they sighted the brig E1izabeth. This prize, an American vessel captured by the British the previous October, was filled with loot plundered from the warehouses of patriot Bostonian merchants and carried a number of Tory refugees. Many of the Tories were transferred to Lee, while their leaders were taken on board Hancock, and the captive crew imprisoned in Lynch)`, which accompanied Hancock into Portsmouth.

On 13 May, Lee, operating with Warren o~ Cape Ann, was joined by Lynch. A fortnight later HMS Milford pursued the schooners, but they escaped in fog. On 7 June, they captured the British transport Anne, carrying a light infantry company of the 71st Highland Regiment and some twoscore oars sent out as fleet replacements. Sixty of the Highlanders were transferred to Lynch and taken to Plymouth, the remainder and the sailors were divided between Lee and Warren, which then escorted Anne toward Marblehead, outrunning the British frigate Milford to safety.

Lee next cruised alone off Nova Scotia without success until recapturing Betsy after that sloop had fallen prey to Milf ord in Massachusetts Bay. Lee scored again in early November by taking the brig Elizabeth, escorting her into Boston on the 7th. While Lee was in port, Captain Waters left the ship to journey to Philadelphia as a Member of Congress. He was succeeded by Capt. John Skinner.

Early in the spring of 1777, Lee was again underway from Boston. She took the schooner Hawke, 13 April, captured the fishing sloop Betsy, 3 May, and, a week later, caught the Irish brigantine Charles. The latter, laden with fish, was recapture en route to Boston under a prize crew. Soon the brigantines Capelin and Industry were added to the list of prizes and escorted to Casco Bay to be libeled. Lee then continued on to Boston, arriving 25 June.

Meanwhile, the ranks of General Washington's Navy were being thinned by captures. When Lynch struck her colors, 19 May 1777, Lee was the only schooner of the little flee left in operation. She pushed out into the Atlantic, 24 July. On 29 August, she caught the brig Industrious Bee and sent her into Boston. The next day, she took the snow Lively, but that prize was recaptured by the frigate Diamond, 23 September. Lee next turned south and took her final prize, the brigantine Dolphin, before returning to Marblehead, 26 October. A few days later, she was returned to her owner.