Thomas Read of Delaware, Part 3: Continental Navy Commander

War at Sea and Waterways (1775–1783)

March 8, 2021
by William H. J. Manthorpe, Jr. Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

Thomas Read (1740-1788) began his seafaring career as a merchant captain, sailing for the Philadelphia firm of Willing and Morris in the ship Aurora, alongside his friend John Barry in Black Prince, as we read in Part 1 of this series. In the early stages of the revolution he served as de facto commodore of the Pennsylvania navy, as we learned in Part 2 of this series. In June 1776, he applied to the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress, of which his brother George was a member, and was given the rank of captain, back-dated to April 6, 1776.

In December 1775, Congress had resolved to build thirteen frigates. These thirteen ships, approved on December 13, would be the first American ships designed and built as warships. William Whipple, delegate to the congress from New Hampshire wrote that, thirty-one days after the December 13 resolution, Joshua Humphreys “laid the plans of several men-of-war” before the marine committee.[1] Four of the ships were assigned to be built by shipyards along Philadelphia’s Delaware River front.

The only surviving plan for these warships is that of the frigate eventually named Randolph. Because it was built at the shipyard of Wharton and Humphreys, it was assuredly one of the plans Humphreys delivered and the “official plan.” The ship eventually named Washingtonwas built at the Eyre Brothers shipyard and “It is reasonable to suppose was a sister of Randolph.” Based on those plans, like Randolph,Washington was of a new design, making it bigger and faster than British frigates of the day.[2]

Builder’s draught of the 32-gun frigate Randolph, sister ship of the Washington. This is the only surviving builder’s plan of a Continental Navy frigate. It was preserved with the Humphries papers, and is now in the National Archives. (NH 65618, Naval History and Heritage Command)

The keel of Washington was laid by December 21, 1775. Construction was underway by spring, assisted by citizen volunteers. Washingtonwas launched on August 7, 1776.[3] Unfortunately, just weeks thereafter, General George Washington’s army was defeated at the battle of Long Island. Over the summer, Manhattan was threatened and evacuated. In October, the army was defeated at White Plains. Washington was forced to retreat into New Jersey, followed by the British army. The threat to Philadelphia was on everyone’s minds.

Recognizing the need to finish the four Philadelphia frigates quickly, on October 10, 1776, the Continental congress “agreed” with the marine committee’s recommendation for the formal “rank of the Captains of the Navy of the United States” and the ships that they would command. Thomas Read was eighth on that list and given command of the thirty-two-gun frigate Washington. His friend John Barry was seventh on the list and given command of the twenty-eight gun frigate Effingham. The thirty-two -gun Randolph was assigned to Nicholas Biddle and twenty-eight-gun Delaware to Charles Alexander. Those men would fit out the ships for sea.[4]

On December 2, the Pennsylvania Council of Safety called out the militia for defense of the city and published a handbill calling for the citizenry to join in the defense. “Vigor & spirit alone will save us-exert ourselves like Freemen.”[5] That same day, the Pennsylvania Council of Safety also, and inexplicably, resolved, “Capt. Thomas Read to join General Washington.”[6] He and Barry and other Continental navy captains had already volunteered to take what men and cannons they could acquire and reinforce the Army.[7] They joined Col. John Cadwalader’s division consisting of Philadelphia Associators, Rhode Island Continentals, Delaware Militia, and men of Continental and Pennsylvania navy marines. Barry was on Cadwalader’s staff and Read led two hastily assembled, non-descript artillery companies.[8]

On December 20, Congress decamped to Baltimore. Robert Morris stayed behind and concerned himself with trying to complete the frigates and get them to sea before the British arrived. He reported to Congress, that

a kind of stupor seems to have seized everybody that ought to give us assistance, so that it is inconceivable how slowly all work goes on & with how much difficulty we can get anything done.[9]

Washington, had retreated into Pennsylvania to sustain and inspire his fatigued army for one last critical effort. On Christmas Eve he re-crossed the Delaware to attack British forward positions at Trenton. Cadwalader’s force was to cross as a diversion and flanking force transported by four galleys of the Pennsylvania navy. They got his infantry across but the massive ice flows prevented Read and the artillery from crossing that night. They crossed two days later.

When Washington re-crossed on December 30 for the second battle of Trenton, he positioned his main force south of the town and on the south side of Assunpink Creek. Barry positioned Read with the artillery in defense of the bridge in the center of the line. There during the battle, according to his family, Read “commanded a battery of guns taken from his own frigate, which raked the stone bridge across the Assunpink Creek.”[10] Their strong defense repelled the British three times and caused them to withdraw, regroup and plan to attack the next day. This gave Washington the opportunity to withdraw his forces overnight to outflank their foe and attack Princeton. Cadwalader’s artillery under Read was again critical in that battle.

In January 1777, the captains were mustered out of Cadwalader’s service. While Read had been with the army nothing had been done to Washington.[11] With Read back in Philadelphia, John Adams observed that “They are fitting out the Washington Capt’n Reed with all possible dispatch.”[12] Morris had hopes of getting Washington safely to sea. He proposed to the marine committee and congress that “Washington having been fitted out as far as having some guns should sail “as soon as she has enough men to work her . . . proceed to windward of Barbados and Cruize until she Manns herself with prizes and then go to Martinico for supplies.”[13] The optimistic plan was ignored by Congress.

Manning the ship would prove difficult. Read had already lost his Master’s Mate, Lt. Blaney Allison, whom he had brought with him from his previous command, the Pennsylvania ship Montgomery. Allison had been ordered to sail with Andria Doria.[14] In June, Barry, as senior naval officer in Philadelphia, convened a court martial aboard Washington. In July, when he convened another, a number of lieutenants, including his 1st lieutenant, one of Read’s lieutenants and Alexander’s 3rd lieutenant refused to attend until their grievances over pay and allowances were addressed. Congress dismissed them all, which would have been a disaster for the captains. Barry persuaded them to recant and convinced congress to relent.[15]

In June, the newly established Continental Navy Board of the Middle District asked Robert Morris for the

Determination of Congress as to what they would have done with the Frigates . . . in the Port in Case of extreme Emergency. Whether they would choose to have them sunk, or burnt or fall into the Enemy’s hands; & whom they would trust with the Execution of their Resolves to this Purpose.[16]

The arrival of a large British invasion fleet off Cape Henlopen on July 30 prompted an answer. Congress immediately authorized the naval board to secure the ships that could not defend the city. The board authorized Barry and Read to “to look at and take such rigging [and] bend as much sail as you may be able to run up the [Delaware] River to some Place of Safety.[17]

Barry and Read needed time and fortunately the enemy brothers provided it. The admiral chose to take the fleet up the Chesapeake Bay to the Elk River. After the troops had been landed, the general delayed while they recovered from their arduous sea journey and foraged for supplies. The army marched on August 30. It won the battle of Brandywine on September 11 and, after outflanking Washington, was preparing to enter Philadelphia on September 25. That day Barry and Read took their ships up the Delaware.[18]

They took their ships upriver to south of Bordentown, New Jersey. The river was narrowest there, to the rear was a creek where the many smaller ships that would flee could shelter. Equally important, situated on the bluff nearby was the White Hill estate of Robert Field. It consisted of a large brick manor house, several hundred acres of farmland and timber, with a commercial wharf, bake house, and other useful outbuildings. Field had died in 1774, but the estate was still occupied by his widow Mary Field, supported by six enslaved persons. The estate provided ideal accommodations for the captains and facilities to support the ships and crew. Washington had a supply base to their rear at Trenton. By October 3 they were preparing to defend their ships in place.[19]

Having taken Philadelphia, the British now had to supply their army and feed the city. The only way to do so was via the Delaware Bay and River. By mid-October about 100 supply ships were anchored off Chester, Pennsylvania.[20] Across the bay at Billingsport, New Jersey, some 20 warships were preparing to attack the forts defending Philadelphia. The defense of the forts depended on the ships of the Continental and Pennsylvania navies.

To bolster that defense, Washington directed his quartermaster at Trenton to determine

that should there be any Ammunition aboard any of the Continental Vessells which is suitable . . . it will be prudent to have it immediately sent down to the Commodore [John Hazelwood, commanding the naval forces south of Philadelphia] or as much of it as can be spared . . . if any Seamen can be possibly be spared from the Continental Vessells or hir’d from any other Vessells, they may be dispatched without loss of time to the Commodore who is in great want of them.

The quartermaster was advised that “the General will expect to be frequently advis’d of the Progress you make & of all Particulars of the Instructions herein Contain’d.”[21]

Per instructions, the quartermaster reported to Washington that the two frigates had “Sixteen Carriage Guns Each. As for men to Reinforce the Galley[s] they cannot be spared from the friggates. There is but one hundred Seamen that is all the fleet that is here. I apply’d to the Continental navey board for twenty, but they would not let me have them.”[22] The board was not cooperating, hoping to preserve its frigates.

Two weeks later, when the battle had paused after the British had lost two major warships to the American navies and withdrew to regroup and wait out a nor’easter, Washington again tried to explain to the navy board the importance of reinforcements.

The importance of defending the Navigation below, or in other words preventing the Enemy from becoming the Masters of it, is obvious to all. If they cannot effect this, we may hope, that they will be obliged either to evacuate the city—or exposed themselves to great hazard, if not ruin. . . . Under these Ideas, I think there should be every possible prudent exertion possible to provide the Commodore with a suitable level of men for manning his vessels. . . . The Ground, I presume, for retaining the Sailors on board the Frigates is their Security. This I fear from their unfinished—unwieldy state could not be provided for in case the enemy should attempt to take them. I am certain of it. Will it not be advisable to Try othermeans for their safety. I mean to scuttle them, if they can be raised again.[23]

Two days later he made an even stronger case for immediate scuttling. He feared that if the British took the frigates they, along with the frigate Delaware which they had already captured, could attack the forts and the defending naval forces from the rear.[24]

In reply, the navy board sent Washington the muster rolls for Washington and Effingham to prove how few men were available. According to their official muster rolls Read had a lieutenant and nine sailors, Barry had two midshipman and five sailors. All the rest were militia or Continental soldiers who had been sick and left behind by their units and were now recovering.[25]

In a last ditch effort to avoid stripping and scuttling the frigates, the navy board advised congress of Washington’s desires. Congress resolved and proposed to Washington that the ships be moved into a nearby creek, be protected by cannons placed ashore and be prepared for burning if necessary. Nevertheless, they told the marine committee and navy board to abide by his decision. Washington ordered the frigates scuttled in a manner that they could be raised again and the men sent south.[26]

Having lost the delaying game, the navy board, led by Francis Hopkinson, called Barry into their office while Read waited outside. Barry was ordered to sink the ships by sunset that day.[27]Angered but following orders, the two captains found that salvaging guns and useful materials and meeting the schedule was not possible. Read visited the board the next day hoping to gain time and men. He was told the ships should be sunk by that evening or the next morning.

Barry was “apoplectic;” Read was angry but accepted the inevitable. Barry, saying “come along Tom” and trailed by Read, stormed back to confront Hopkinson. A bitter battle of egos, knowledge and principles erupted. Finally, Read managed to get Barry away and calmed down. Later, when Hopkinson arrived at the ships to see if his orders had been carried out, another bitter argument ensued between the two. Hopkinson assumed control, if not command, of Effingham and ordered her scuttled, while Barry stepped aside. Hopkinson had chosen the wrong time and the wrong place. The ship almost capsized and broke. After two later attempts by Barry to right the ship, Hopkinson arrived to take charge again but retreated when it looked like violence might occur. Barry’s third attempt failed and Effingham lay wreckedA day later Read properly and successfully scuttled Washington.[28]

On November 16, the British finally subdued the forts. Some of the defending Pennsylvania galleys and smaller ships managed to slip past Philadelphia up the river. Others were burned. Men from those vessels arrived at Bordentown soon after. After reluctantly telling Washington that it had followed his orders and scuttled the ships, now the board spitefully informed him that, if the frigates had not been scuttled, those men could be housed aboard and defend the ships.[29] Washington did not respond.

Read remained at White Hill and contacted the marine committee stating his desire for another command. Barry headed for Valley Forge where he met with Washington and, serendipitously, with Robert Morris. He proposed an operation to them and was soon carrying it out. He gathered boats and men at Bordentown and slipped down the river past Philadelphia to command his little fleet in the Delaware Bay. Soon they were supporting Gen. Anthony Wayne’s foraging operations in northern Jersey and harassing British supply shipping.[30]

In the spring Barry returned to White Hill to call on Read but found that he had been given command and had already departed for Baltimore. He had been ordered to fit out and command the eponymous twelve-gun brig which had been built there.[31] Barry was invited to stay overnight. Coincidently, as they prepared to evacuate Philadelphia, the British sent a force of infantry upriver to burn all the ships there, especially Effingham and Washington. As a British officer and men approached White Hill, Barry was warned and fled.[32]

Read had been ordered to fit out Baltimore as a packet. It did not look like an opportunity for combat and prize money. Packets were designed to be fast ships and intended to run and avoid contact with the enemy if possible to safely deliver their secret correspondence and cargo. Being built in Baltimore she was likely built to the Bermuda Mould, a style preferred there that later evolved into the Baltimore clipper style so favored by privateers in 1812.[33] Further, he soon learned that the congressional commerce committee had contracted for him to carry forty-nine hogsheads of tobacco consigned to the American commissioners in Paris to be sold as they directed.[34]

As Read already knew from his experience with Washington, fitting out a Continental ship was not fast or easy. Soon after his arrival, a member of the marine committee visited Baltimore and found that the twelve 4-pound carriage guns that the committee had specified could not be acquired. He asked Maryland’s governor for assistance and, on March 27, Read personally called on the governor. He eventually scraped up ten 3-pounders.[35]

Throughout April, Read struggled to find officers and crew. Finally, he got enough crew and Lt. John Fanning, Jr. from Virginia as his first lieutenant. Having done so, he lay in the river during much of May waiting for rigging to be completed. Finally, on May 28, with his cargo aboard and with a letter from the commerce committee to the American commissioners in Paris, he left Baltimore. He sailed from Annapolis soon thereafter.[36]

After a speedy and uneventful crossing for which his ship was designed, he arrived in Nantes, France, to discharge his cargo to the American agent for sale, forwarded the commerce committee’s letter to Paris, and awaited their further directions. On July 29 the received them. He was to load the cargo their agent provided and get it to America expeditiously and safely. While the commissioners intended to send some dispatches with him, he was not to delay sailing to wait for them. Having successfully completed that trip, Read and Baltimore were ordered to make another from which they returned to Philadelphia in mid-June 1779.[37]

Captain Read was soon detached from command of Baltimore. In the autumn of 1779 he was ordered to command of the frigate Bourbon. This thirty-six-gun ship had been authorized in January 1777 and was constructed at Chatham (Middletown) Connecticut. Nothing had been done until Read arrived. He quickly got her keel laid down and, despite a New England winter, he and the now-hopeful builder had her ready for launching in record time, by March 1780.[38] While Read had been at sea in Baltimore, Barry had commanded the ill-fated Raleigh and the Pennsylvania privateer Delaware.  Now Barry was ordered to take command of America, a seventy-four-gun ship of the line to be built in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Unknown to Read and Barry, Congress was “betting on the come.”

On July 10, 1779, John Jay, President of the Continental Congress had sent a letter to Benjamin Franklin to be delivered to the King of France with a request for a loan. The loan was to be used to buy a long list of supplies desired by the congressional board of war and also to build a thirty-six-gun frigate and seventy-four -gun ship desired by the marine committee. Then reality set in. France provided only a quarter of the loan requested and congress’s financial difficulties caused funds to dry up and work to be suspended on both ships.[39]

Neither Read nor John Barry waited around. In July 1780, Read became master of the Philadelphia twelve-gun privateer brig Patty. In August, before going to sea, he married Mary Field and made White Hall his home.[40] Meanwhile in June, Barry was commissioned master of the Philadelphia twelve-gun privateer American.[41]

By September, Read was again in France. From L’Orient he sent a letter to Benjamin Franklin enclosing a letter from his son-in-law Richard Bache and a copy of a newspaper reporting the arrival of the French fleet in Newport, Rhode Island. He offered, “If your Excellency has Any Commands Either Publick or Private I Shall be happy in Executing of them.” He was back in Philadelphia by the end of October. Then, by mid-November he was again back at sea, arriving in France in January. On that cruise, Read finally achieved what he had long desired and had repeatedly been denied him, combat action at sea. On this cruise, just prior to arriving in France, he engaged and took his first and only prize, the British schooner Success.[42]

Returning home in the spring of 1781 he retired to his new home, now at least somewhat satisfied. He was soon restless, and on June 29 he applied for restoration of his Continental rank and for service. Unfortunately, with the loss of Saratoga to storm and Confederacy to capture, only John Barry’s Alliance remained. His application was never acted on.[43]

Meanwhile, in Alliance, John Barry was busy taking dignitaries to France and making successful prize cruises en route home. Finally, ordered to Havana to bring 100,000 Spanish dollars to congress, Barry fought the last engagement of the war while getting the treasure safely to the Congress. As the last remaining ship in the Continental navy, Robert Morris had Barry reconfigure Alliance as a merchant ship to carry tobacco to Holland for congress’s account. Unfortunately, damage to the ship made her unseaworthy and Barry returned her to Philadelphia.[44]

That brought Barry and Read together again. Along with Joshua Humphreys they assessed the condition of the ship. Whatever Read and Humphreys concluded, Barry optimistically reported to congress that “the Ship will be fit for any service for three or four Years” at a cost of almost 6000 dollars. Lack of funds kept Alliance in Philadelphia until she was sold on August 1, 1785. The ultimate owner was Robert Morris.[45]

Barry and Read were both inducted into the Society of the Cincinnati in in 1785. It is said that in his retirement Read “dispensed a constant hospitality, especially to his old associates in the Order of Cincinnati.” Certainly John Barry left his “Old Hibernian” friends to partake with Read.

Not wasting a useful asset, Robert Morris converted Alliance to an East Indiaman and enlisted Thomas Read as her master during her first merchant service. Read took her to China on a schedule and route that had not previously been tried. He departed Philadelphia in June 1787 and arrived at Canton on December 22. While passing through the Caroline Islands on the outward voyage, Read found two islands which were not on his chart and named the first Morris (probably present-day Ponape) and the second, Alliance. At Canton he loaded the ship with tea which he delivered back at Philadelphia on September 17, 1788, ending a record voyage.

Thomas Read died soon thereafter on October 26, 1788 at his home.[46] Fortunately, his friend John Barry was able to attend his funeral and hear Robert Morris say of their friend:

While Integrity, benevolence, patriotism and courage are united with most gentle manners, are respected and admired among men, the name of this valuable citizen and soldier will be revered and beloved. He was in the nobelest import of the word, a Man.[47]


[1]“Wednesday, December 13, 1775,” Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1904)2: 425-427 (JCC), Library of Congress, Lieutenant Commander M.V. Brewington, “The Design of Our First Frigates,” American Mercury Vol. VIII (January 1948), 15. Note 27 cites “Edmund C. Burnett, 1 Force Transcripts, William Whipple Correspondence. William Whipple I, 83.”

[2]Brewington made a good case that Humphreys was the designer of all the ships despite later modifications by other builders. Noted maritime historian Howard I. Chapelle had reservations. He nevertheless agreed that Randolph and Washington were designed by the eventually famous Humphreys. Humphreys’ known designs of Constitution and the other frigates of 1812 were also unique, bigger and faster than British frigates. Howard I. Chapelle, The American Sailing Navy: The Ships and their Development (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1949), 57, 65, 74.

[3]The construction and launch of Washington are documented in: “Acct of Jehu Eyre, builder of the continental navy Frigate Washington, Accts for December 1775 and January 1776,” Naval Documents of the American Revolution, 8: 889, Naval History and Heritage Command, William Duane, ed., Extracts from the Diary of Christopher Marshall, Kept in Philadelphia and Lancaster, During the American Revolution, 1774-1781 (Albany, NY: Joel Mansell, 1877), 65. Also, “Advertisement for Timber for the Continental Frigates Building in Philadelphia [Philadelphia, June 19, 1776],” NDAR, 5:627. Chapelle, The American Sailing Navy, 74 and index “Washington,” 557. “Journal of the Continental Congress [Philadelphia] Thursday, October 10, 1776,” NDAR, 6: 1200. The “’Draught of Randolph after “Wharton and Humphreys’ Draught,” showing the official designs for the 32-gun frigates.”’ is reproduced in Chapelle, The American Sailing Navy between pages 57 and 58. Based on that design, Washington had a length between perpendiculars of 132’ 9’, maximum beam of 34’6’’ and extreme draft of 14’.

[4]“Journal of the Continental Congress, [Philadelphia] Thursday October 10, 1776,” NDAR, 6:1200.

[5]To the Captains or Commanders of the Respective Battalions, In Council of Safety, Philadelphia, December 2,” Samuel Hazard, ed., Pennsylvania ArchivesSeries 1, Vol. 5 (Philadelphia, PA: Joseph Severns & Co., 1873), 84. Also, Printed Ephemera, Three Centuries of Broadsides and other printed Ephemera. American Memory, Library of Congress On-line Catalog,

[6]“Minutes of the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, [Philadelphia] Dec. 2nd, 1776,” NDAR, 7: 352.

[7]“November 30, 1777,” JCC, 6: 997.

[8]Tim McGrath, John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail (Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, 2010), 106 citing the Cadwalader Collection in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Also William Bell Clark, Gallant John Barry 1745-1803: The Story of an American Hero of Two Wars (New York: The Macmillian Company, 1938), 107-108.

[9]“Robert Morris to John Hancock, Philadelphia, December 23, 1776,” NDAR, 7: 576.

[10]McGrath, John Barry, 104-110. Clark, Gallant John Barry, 108-111. Harmon Pumpelly Read, Rossiana: Papers and Documents Relating to the History and Genealogy of the Ancient and Noble Family of ROSS (Albany, NY: Press of the Argus Co., 1908), 280. J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware (Philadelphia: L. J. Richards & Co., 1888), 1: 189-190.

[11]McGrath, John Barry, 110 citing Cadwalader Collection.

[12]John Adams to Abigail Adams [Philadelphia] April 11 [1777], NDAR, 8:321.

[13]“Robert Morris to the Secret Committee of the Continental Congress, Philadelphia, February 19, 1777,” NDAR, 7: 1236-1237.

[14]“Blaney Allison, Masters Mate, Lieutenant,” Continental Navy.Com,

[15]“Court Martial of William Whitpain, Master of the Continental Navy Sloop Independence,” NDAR, 9:144.“Journal of the Continental Congress, [Philadelphia] Wednesday, July 23, 1777,” NDAR, 9:321. “Journal of the Continental Congress, [Philadelphia] July 28, 1777,” NDAR, 9: 347. Barry’s 1st lieutenant was Luke Matthewman. Read’s lieutenant was John Argus who signed the original May 15 lieutenants petition but did not sign the strike document of July 21. “Argus, John,” American War of Independence at Sea, Alexander’s 3rd lieutenant was Joseph Greenway. All soon left the navy for privateer commands.

[16]“Continental Navy Board of the Middle Department to Robert Morris, [Philadelphia] 13th June 1777,” NDAR, 9:108. “Journal of the Continental Congress, [Philadelphia] Saturday, June 14, 1777,” NDAR, 9:109.

[17]“Henry Fisher to the Pennsylvania Naval Board, [Lewes] Wednesday morning 10 o’clock, July 30th 1777,” NDAR, 9: 354. “Journal of the Continental Congress, [Philadelphia] Thursday, July 31, 1777,” NDAR, 9: 362. McGrath, John Barry, 119. He located this key source “Central Navy Board to John Barry and Thomas Read,” July 31, 1777 in the William Bell Clark Estate at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

[18]McGrath, John Barry, 121.

[19]Friends of White Hill Mansion,; “Deputy Quartermaster General Jonathon Mifflin to General George Washington, Trenton, 3rd Octo 1777,” NDAR, 10: 25.

[20]For the number of supply ships entering the bay see Harold B. Hancock, ed., “The Revolutionary War Diary of William Adair,” Delaware History, Vol. XIII, No. 2 (October 1968), 162.

[21]Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman to Major Benjamin Eyre, Given at Headquarters [Towamencin, Pa.] by order of his Excellency, Cmdrin Chief Octor14, 1777,” NDAR, 10:163.

[22]“Major Benjamin Eyre to George Washington, Six in the evening, Bordentown, October the

16: 1777,” NDAR: 10: 186. Later, giving his side of the story to congress, Barry asserted that by requisitioning guns and men from the merchant ships the two frigates got twenty-three carriage guns between them and eighty men each. McGrath, John Barry, 125 citing John Barry to Congress, Barry papers at Independence Seaport Museum. See“January 13, 1777,” JCC,10: 44.

[23]“George Washington to the Continental navy Board of the Middle Department, Head Quarters 25th October 1777,” NDAR, 10:283-284.

[24]George Washington to the Continental Navy Board of the Middle Department, 15th Milestone on the Skippach Rd, Oct. 27-77,” NDAR, 10: 320-321.

[25]“Continental Navy Board of the Middle Department to George Washington, Borden Town 26th Octobr 1777,” NDAR, 10: 301. “Muster Roll of the Frigate Washington Crew Thomas Read Esq. Commander Abreast of Whitehall 26th October 1777.” NDAR, 10: 312. “A Return of the Crew of the Continental Frigate Effingham, A Return of the People on Board the Frigate Effingham John Barry Esqr Commander, 27th October 1777,” NDAR, 10:321.

[26]“Journal of the continental Congress, [York] Tuesday November 4, 1777,” NDAR, 10:396-397. “Continental Marine Committee to the Navy Board of the Middle Department, [York] November 5th1777,” NDAR, 10:407-408. “George Washington to the Continental Navy Board of the Middle Department, Head Quarters 9thNovember 1777,” NDAR, 10:447-448.

[27]McGrath, John Barry, 128 citing Navy Board to Barry, November 2, 1777, Etting papers, Pennsylvania Historical Society.

[28]The story of the scuttling is in McGrath, John Barry, 125, 127-135, based on John Barry’s report to congress January 10, 1778, Etting papers. “Tuesday, January 13, 1778,” JCC, 10: 44 notes the receipt of the report but does not provide a link to it. Clark, Gallant John Barry, 126-133 tells the story.

[29]“Continental Navy Board of the Middle Department to George Washington, Borden Town 10thNovr, 1777,” NDAR, 10:453-454. “Continental Navy Board of the Middle Department to George Washington, Borden Town 28thNovemr 1777,” NDAR, 10: 623-624.

[30]Barry’s exploits are recorded in Clark, Gallant John Barry, 141-154. Also Frank H. Stewart, Foraging for Valley Forge by General Anthony Wayne in Salem and Gloucester Counties, New Jersey (Woodbury, NJ: Gloucester County Historical Society, 1974), 79. Also Tim McGrath, “I passed by Philadelphia with Two Boats,” in Naval History Vol.23 no. 3 (June 2009). Also “To George Washington from Captain John Barry, 9 March 1778,” Founders Online, Barry’s letter to Washington is also in Kim Burdick, Revolutionary Delaware (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2016), 100-101 along with follow-up letters from Brigadier General William Smallwood reporting further details received from Barry.

[31]“Continental Marine Committee to Captain Thomas Read, [York, Pa.] January 13, 1778,” NDAR, 11:108. “To Captain Thomas Read,” January 13, 1778,” Charles Oscar Paulin, ed., Out-letters of the Continental Marine Committee and Board of Admiralty(August 1776-September 1780) (NY: Printed for the Naval History Society by the De Vinne Press, 1914), 190.

[32]Clark, Gallant John Barry, 155 says that Barry was warned by Mrs. Read. While Barry recognized that a close relationship had obviously developed between Thomas Read and Mary Field, they didn’t marry until 1779.

[33]“Baltimore I (Brigantine),” Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Edward Tunis, Oars, Sails and Steam(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1952), 42.

[34]“To Captain Thomas Read,” April 6, 1778, Paulin, ed., Out-letters, 221.

[35]“Jonathon Hudson to Governor Thomas Johnson, Jr., [Baltimore] March 27, 1778,” NDAR, 11: 805. “Journal of the Maryland Council, [Annapolis] Wednesday 1stApril, 1778,” NDAR, 12: 7-8.

[36]Charles Henry Lincoln, ed., “1778 January 13, Continental Congress Marine Committee to Captain Thomas Read,” Naval Records of the American Revolution: 1775-1788(Washington, DC: Library of Congress. Manuscript Division, 1906 ), 63 (NRAR). “1778 April 6, Continental Congress,” NRAR, 69. “1778 April 22 Continental Congress,” NRAR, 71. “To Captain Thomas Read,” April 6, 1778 and April 28, 1778, Paulin, ed., Out-letters, 221. “Continental Marine Committee to Jonathon Hudson, [York] November 22nd, 1777,” NDAR, 10:570.

[37]“The American Commissioners to Thomas Read,” The Papers of Benjamin Franklin (New Haven, CT: Yale University Library, 2020), 27: 175. “To Capt. Samuel Tucker, June 2d, 1779,” Paulin ed., Out-letters, 81.

[38]“1779 Oct. 12 Continental Congress,” NRAR,119 and “1779 Oct 21 Continental Congress,” NRAR, 120. “To Captain Thomas Read,” October 21, 1779. Paulin, ed., Out-letters, 2: 123. “Thursday, January 23, 1777,” JCC, 7: 59. “Bourbon,” DANFS. Chapelle, The American Sailing Navy, 85-86.

[39]“John Jay to the King of France [July 10, 1779],” Letters of Delegates to Congress:Volume 13 (June 1, 1779 – September 30, 1779), 188, Library of Congress, Does not include the list. Claude A. Lopez, “Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette, and the Lafayette,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Vol. 108 no. 3 (June 1964), 182. Bourbon was finally launched by the builder in July 1783 and sold in September 1783. Chapelle, The American Sailing Navy, 86. America was launched in November 1782 and immediately turned over to France. Ibid,80-82.

[40]Patty in “Privateers,” American War of Independence at Sea, They married on August 27, 1779 at White Hill. “New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1683-1802,” Scharf and other sources say September 7, probably when the ceremony was performed vice recorded.

[41]Barry in “Officers,” American War of Independence, at Sea,

[42]“1780, July 22, Patty,” NRAR, 410. “To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Read, 8 September 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives,

[43]“1781 29 June Continental Congress,” NRAR,180.

[44]McGrath, John Barry, 336-339.

[45]“1785 May 23 Continental Congress,” NRAR,209. “Alliance (frigate),” DANFS.

[46]“Alliance (frigate),” DANFS. Scharf, History of Delaware, 190.

[47]Scharf, History of Delaware, 190.

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