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    American attacks on British Isles

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    On reading a book, I just became aware that the American rebels attacked the British Isles on occasion mainly by priveteers. John Paul Jones ("I have not yet begun to fight") being one who landed on Scottish soil and the Channel Islands. Has anyone else heard of this or can elaborate on these "unknown events"?

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    found that reference :


    At about the same time, Jones received orders from Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, the American commissioners in France. Jones had sailed to Europe in anticipation that he would receive a frigate, L'Indien, which the American government had arranged to build in Holland. However, the British, learning of American plans, had persuaded the Dutch, in whose shipyard the vessel was being constructed, not to deliver L'Indien into American hands. The American commissioners, who were in the midst of delicate negotiations with the French, decided not to press the matter. As a result, Jones was ordered to retain command of Ranger and, in that vessel, to attack the enemy. The orders the commissioners gave him, though vague, directed Jones to pursue the strategy he had advocated. He was to assault the enemy "by Sea, or otherwise." An earlier letter from Jones to the commissioners had spelled out his intentions: "I have always since we have had Ships of War been persuaded that small Squadrons could be employed to far better Advantage on private expeditions and would distress the Enemy infinitely more than the same force could do by cruising either Jointly or Seperately - were strict Secrecy Observed on our part the Enemy have many important Places in such a defenceless Situation that they might be effectually Surprised and Attacked with no considerable Force - We cannot yet Fight their Navy as their numbers and Force is so far Superiour to ours - therefore it seems to be our most natural Province to Surprize their defenceless places and thereby divide their attention and draw it off from our Coasts." In a February 1778 letter to the commissioners, Jones reiterated his ideas, adding: "I have in contemplation several enterprizes of some importance - the Commissioners do not even promise to Justify me should I fail in any bold attempt - I will not however, under this discouragement, alter my designs. - When an Enemy think a design against them improbable they can always be Surprised and Attacked with Advantage. - it is true I must run great risque - but no Gallant action was ever performed without danger - therefore, tho' I cannot insure Success I will endeavour to deserve it."

    As seen in these two letters, Jones understood that Americans must fight a kind of guerilla war at sea. They could not engage the enemy fleet against fleet, nor was commerce raiding the answer. While the latter might be profitable for the captains and crews, it did not, in the end, significantly help the nation's interest. Striking the enemy where least expected would keep the British off-balance and dispersed, forcing them to redeploy some of their naval squadrons away from the American coast. Jones' ideas were "out of the box," and reflected a patriotism that was willing to sacrifice personal gain and advancement for a greater good. It was not, however, a strategy that appealed to his crew who saw commerce raiding and attendant prize money as their best chance to supplement meager wages. In Ranger and in his subsequent commands, Jones had problems with dissatisfied crews because of his reputation as a risk-taker and hard-fighter who eschewed commerce raiding for other, more perilous, missions.

    The Cruise of Ranger

    The cruise of Ranger, which began in April 1778, was truly remarkable. It lasted twenty-eight days, and in that time, according to historian Samuel Eliot Morison, Jones and his crew "performed one of the most brilliant exploits of the naval war." In addition to taking two merchantmen - Jones favored capturing merchant ships when it did not detract from the overall strategic goal - and destroying several others, Ranger captured a British man-of-war, took some two hundred prisoners, and, most notably, executed a land raid that caught the public's attention in both England and America.

    Jones had planned to raid a British coastal town as retaliation for English raids against towns on the Connecticut coast and in order to seize one or more "important" prisoners who might be exchanged for American seamen held in British prisons. The British government was willing to exchange captured American army officers and soldiers, but insisted on treating American naval prisoners as pirates who had no rights as belligerents. As a result, captured American seamen languished in British jails. The British could follow such a policy because American ships, especially privateers, captured few British prisoners and kept even fewer. Concerned about the fate of these American naval prisoners, Jones hoped that by taking an important English nobleman captive, he would force the British ministry to authorize an exchange. Jones mistakenly supposed that Lord Selkirk, his intended target, was a great lord whose detention would force the British to change their policy. Selkirk was, in fact, an unimportant Scottish peer. Moreover, he was away from home when Jones' raiding party arrived. Because of this, Jones - at the insistence of his crew - did nothing more than authorize his men to loot the Selkirk household silver. Jones refused to accompany his men on their mission and later purchased the silver from is men and returned it to the Selkirks. He also wrote a lengthy, apologetic letter to Lady Selkirk spelling out the rationale for the raid.

    This raid roused the countryside and caused the Admiralty to send warships in pursuit of Ranger. Jones, unaware that he was being chased, decided to attack the 20-gun British ship Drake. It was an even match. Ranger had more and heavier armament but Drake had more men. In contrast to his tactics at Flamborough Head, Jones decided to disable Drake with cannon fire while preventing the British warship from closing with Ranger and boarding it. In a battle that lasted just over an hour and was "warm close and obstinate," Ranger forced Drake to surrender. Jones, understanding the publicity value of bringing the British warship into a French port after his daring land raid, decided to take Drake, whose rigging was in tatters, with him to France. For almost twenty-four hours, therefore, he remained off Whitehaven, England, refitting the damaged Drake. He then sailed for France via the northern tip of Ireland, an inspired choice because his British pursuers had taken up a position south and east of Whitehaven on the more direct route to the continent.

    Reaction to the raid in England is interesting. In some publications, Jones was characterized as a bloodthirsty pirate interested only in murder and mayhem. These newspaper accounts even changed his physical appearance, describing Jones, who was approximately 5'6", with light brown hair, fair skin, and hazel eyes, as big, dark and swarthy, like a buccaneer. Despite the attempt to demonize Jones, many among the English lower classes came to see him as a Robin Hood figure, who took from the upper classes but was considerate of he English working man. This impression was solidified when on his return voyage to France Jones set ashore fishermen he had earlier captured to gain knowledge of the local waters and reportedly gave them new sails and money.


    More here:

    He was himself born in Scotland btw.

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    • 3 weeks later...


    John Paul Jones (1747-1792) Father of the American Navy. His original name was John Paul. Born July 6, 1747 in Kirkbean, Scotland. He went to sea at the age of 12, and at 19 was first mate of a slaver, and captain of a merchantman three years later. Ill fortune struck, however, when a man, flogged on his ship, died and another was killed in a mutiny. Hostile witnesses at the inquiry made it rough for him and he next appeared at his brother's home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, having added the alias of "Jones" to his name. He had been made a member of St. Bernards Lodge No. 122 (now St. Cuthbert No. 41) of Kirkcudbright, Scotland, November 27, 1770. At the outbreak of the American Revolution he obtained a commission in the Continental Navy as a lieutenant. It is said that fraternal connections obtained it for him. He soon became a captain, and acted as commodore of a fleet of privateers through which he established a reputation. Taking the war into European waters, he went to France, and, through Franklin's influence, obtained a vessel named the Bonhomme Richard which first flew the new American ensign in foreign waters. Two days after the first fight with the British Serapis (where he is supposed to have uttered the words "I've just begun to fight!"), his ship sank and he made his way back to Paris. While here, he became associated with the Lodge of Nine Sisters, and there are several references to his membership in the Lodge records. He was also a visitor to St. Thomas Lodge in Paris. The Lodge of Nine Sisters had a bust of Jones made by Houdon, the measurements of which were used to identify Jones's body when the remains were removed more than 100 years later. Returning to Philadelphia in 1781, he was named to command the America, a man-of-war then building. Through "defects of taste and character," he was not allowed to take the vessel to sea. He again returned to Paris, and finally in 1787, Congress voted him a medal--the only one awarded to a naval hero in the Revolution. After declining service with Denmark, he accepted an appointment as rear admiral in the navy of Empress Catherine of Russia, then at war against the Turks. He was victor in the engagements on the Black Sea, but lost those in the palace corridors. He returned to Paris in 1790, and died of dropsy, July 18, 1792. He was buried in the Protestant cemetery of Paris and his gravesite was forgotten until 1905, when it was rediscovered and the remains were born in solemn procession through the streets of Paris prior to shipment to America. They were later interred at Annapolis, Maryland.

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