USS Retaliation (1798)


USS Retaliation (1798)

The first USS "Retaliation" was a French privateer captured and then served in the United States Navy during Quasi-War with France.

The U.S. warship, "Delaware", commanded by Capt. Stephen Decatur, Sr., captured a French privateer, "La Croyable", off Great Egg Harbor, New Jersey, on 7 July 1798. Before her capture, the schooner had been preying upon shipping off the Delaware Capes and had taken a British brigantine and a Philadelphia merchantman, "Liberty". She had also boarded and robbed coaster "Alexander Hamilton".

The U.S. Navy purchased "La Croyable" on 30 July 1798, manned her at Philadelphia, renamed her "Retaliation", and placed her under the command of Lt. William Bainbridge.

"Retaliation" departed Norfolk on 28 October 1798 with "Montezuma" and "Norfolk" and cruised in the West Indies protecting American commerce during the Quasi-War with France. On 20 November, French frigates, "L'Insurgente" and "Volontaire" overtook "Retaliation" while her consorts were away on a chase and forced Bainbridge to surrender the hopelessly out-gunned schooner. However, even as a prisoner, the clever young American officer managed to serve his country. He saved "Montezuma" and "Norfolk" by convincing the senior French commander that those American warships were too powerful for his frigates and induced him to abandon the chase.

Renamed "Magicienne" by the French, the schooner again came into American hands on 28 June, when a broadside from USS "Merrimack" forced her to haul down her colors. She performed convoy duty in the Caribbean before returning to Philadelphia in August. Her crew was then discharged and the schooner was sold on 29 November 1799 to Thomas and Peter Mackie.


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