More Whale boat action

Below are some accounts of whaleboats, (most coming out of NJ) against the Queens County, NY, area.  Also some from Connecticut.  NJ boats ranged as far as Long Island Sound.
Submitted by Ken Miller.

Note: ALL Militia mentioned are LOYALIST militia on  Long Island ,NY
Transcribed and edited by Linda Pearsall  Harvey Further Edited by Ken Miller to
reflect boat stories  only


 by Henry Onderdonk Jr.;  1846

How small boats were used in battle

345. Oct. 12, ‘78, Gaine. A small  sloop and two pettyaugers were taken last 
Monday, near Rockaway. 
34. Hempstead, June 29, ‘79. Riv. On Saturday, we were alarmed with an 
account that six whale bots, manned with 8, 9, and  10 men each, had entered our
bay, seized two negroes belonging to  Capt. St. Hewlett, burnt a schooner and a
large hay boat, and taken a  loaded sloop at Hog Island, intended for the
New-York market.  Three of the Hempstead militia Capts., their companies (and the
men, to do  them justice, turned out with alacrity, and behaved with a spirit
becoming the  subjects of King George.) Early on Sunday morning they retook
the  sloop, the two negroes, and captured two of the whale boats,  completely
armed with swivels as well as small  arms, and manned with 17 hands. 
It was supposed the other four boats had returned to the  eastward, but at 2
P.M., the alarm was again given, that the four  whale boats, joined by two
others, had returned in the bay, and  it was supposed, intended retaking the
sloop and the two prize  whale boats. The same three companies again mustered,
repaired to  the place appointed, and with the assistance of the two taken whale 
boats, which they manned, and some old crazy hay  boats, boldly attacked the
six remaining rebel  boats, took three of them  completely armed, with 23
prisoners, and pursued the others  for several miles, till they were fairly driven
out of the country. 
Another account of the same affair 
Last Sunday, two rebel whale boats, on board of which were 17  men, made
their appearance at Hog  Island, near Rockaway (off the coast of Brooklyn-washed
away in a  1890's Hurricane). The militia were soon alarmed, and a  party was
dispatched in two boats, whilst the others marched along  shore and secreted
themselves among the brush at the entrance of and along the  creek, at which
they entered. The rebels had scarcely landed, when they  observed the two boats
coming into the inlet, on which, they endeavored to  escape, but finding they
were surrounded, and fired on from all quarters, they  surrendered. 
Some time after, three others of the same gentry came rowing along  shore,
and observing their two boats, made into the inlet, and fell  also into the
hands of the militia. These boats were fitted out at  Saybrook, in Connecticut,
with a brass two pounder in the bow of each, and had  a commission from Gov.
Trumbull to plunder the inhabitants of Long Island. The  prisoners, 41 in number
were brought to town yesterday. (Conn.  Whaleboats)
348. July 4, ‘79, Riv. The Queens Co. Loyalist militia  ,made some prisoners
about this time. 
350. Aug. 10, ‘79. Last Tuesday Dickie was exchanged.* 
John Jackson’s store, west of the mill-dam, at Merrick, was  robbed by some
whale boats under Capt. Dickie, who came up  Jackson’s Creek. Jackson was
carried off with them, but the weather being  unfavorable for going out, they
hauled up at Crow Island  house. The alarm was spread east and west,* and the
militia went in  pursuit. The western division consisted of a hay boat full of 
men, well armed, under Joseph Raynor. The eastern  division, of a boat likewise
filled, in which was my relator,  G. Hewlett. When the boat from the wast was
seen coming down,  Dickie determined to launch his boat and secure his plunder
from the house,  and try to escape. All hands were set to work. Shortly after
the western boat  hove in sight, when Dickie finding himself cut off, resolved
 to give battle, and formed his men, but on the nearer approach of the boats,
 finding himself so inferior in number, he concluded to surrender, and
stacked  his arms before the landing of the militia. The prisoners were sent to 
New-York. Dickie had previously plundered a craft of goods belonging to John 
Brotherton, storekeeper. Jackson ransomed his goods and the prize was sold and 
divided among the captors. 
Not long after this, G. H. with two friends, was gunning on  the marsh, when
a whale boat rowed up, took his gun, silver  sleeve buttons and some money;
and consulted among themselves whether they  should take their hats and coats,
but finally left the. 
353. Aug. 9, ‘80. Riv. About 5 o’clock last Friday evening, an account was 
brought to Rockaway that two whale boats were at Hog Island,  and had taken a
schooner in the bay. Capt. Chas. Hicks, of  the militia, mustered hi company,
and with a few volunteers in two  boats, went in quest of them. Bust stormy
weather prevented their  attacking them that evening. At 4 o’clock next morning,
Capt. Hicks, to avoid  the effusion of blood, sent a flag to inform the
rebels that if they would  surrender prisoners, they should have good quarters;
this they would not  comply with, when a smart action commenced; but the enemy
seeing that they  could not escape, agreed to accept the first terms and
accordingly surrendered  themselves prisoners of war, 28 in number, among them a
These two boats were 14 days from Brunswick NJ, and  had met with no success.
One was commanded by W.  Marriner, formerly a cordwainer and oyster dealer of
New-York, but of  late a great rebel partisan. Mr. Dickie, the rebel
Commissary, was also taken,  who has ever proved a violent persecutor of the Royal
officers and Loyalists  who have fallen into his power. The boats were well
filled and  provided with all sorts of ammunition. None killed or wounded on 
either side. Several grapeshot went through Capt. Hicks’s jacket A more perfect
account from an eye-witness.
Last Friday evening about 6 o’clock, information was brought to Lt.  Williams
of Gov. Wentworth’s Volunteers, the commanding officer of this post,  that a
party of rebels had landed on Hog Island beach, and had taken a  schooner in
the bay. He immediately marched with 14 of his company and 14 of  the 17th
light dragoons to Pine’s Landing; from whence they proceeded  in boats with Capt.
Hewlett of the militia, and part of his  company, to Hog Island, where they
arrived at 9 that evening, and joined Capt.  Hicks, who was there with part of
his company; remained there till 2 next  morning (by which time the militia had
collected to the number of about 40,)  then re-embarked and proceeded to the
beach, where they all landed at daybreak  without any other opposition than
one musket fired by a rebel sentry, which  was returned by two from us. The
rebels then sent a flag and submitted  themselves prisoners of war; and were, with
two  remarkable fine boats taken from the, safely conducted to  Rockaway by 6
the same morning, and left in care of Capt. Hicks.--Gaine, Aug.  2, ‘80. 
{Capt. Story says word was brought that a whale boat  had taken Capt. Jo.
Stout’s schooner at Hog Island. James Pine rode  to Hempstead for the
light-horse, when 28 galloped down in 17 minut4es. Pine’s  horse gave out and he mounted
behind a trooper. These were taken aboard a  hay-boat, and staid at Hog Island
that night. At dawn they went in search of  the whale boat. They saw a person
swimming and then running  on the meadows. It was Capt. Stout. They took him
on board, and then rowed on  till they reached the bar running north and
south. As they were landing, a  person rushed past. It was Capt. Marriner. He
fired, but only hit the  boat. The schooner and whale boat lay high and dry,  the
wind being southerly, and the whale boat ignorant of the  channel. The militia
had two carriage guns on a hill on the beach east of the  schooner, ready to
fire on her, if she should float and attempt to get off,  but did not use it.
As they neared the vessels a man whom the whale  boats had made prisoner,
Thomas Hutchings, came from them, waving a  handkerchief on a stick for parley.
Marriner proposed to surrender if he could  be billeted at Hempstead. This was
refused, when they surrendered at  discretion, and were marched off to New-York.
Only 28 persons, the real  captors, shared the prize, though there were 2000
militia collected around. 
Uriah Pearsall was one of this party. As they neared the shore, a sentry  who
lay in a hole he had dug in the sand to hide himself, fired and run.  The
ball entered the bow of the boat under the seats and  so out of the stern, but
hurt no one. The militia gave him  "whistle tail" but did not touch him. The
militia were not obliged to  leave terra firma to attack whale boats, but many
did so from  patriotic motives or hopes of prize money. 
Capt. Story, who owned a vessel in the oyster business at Blue  Point, was
captured three times. First, his schooner was taken while  graving at Babylon,
by Capt. Spooner, in a New London whale  boat. He ransomed her for 20 half joes
and 9 guineas, and got a  ransom bill for 25 days. The time had hardly
elapsed when he was again taken  by Spooner, but got off by giving $25 and 5 gallons
of rum, (worth 18s. per  gallon) as an acknowledgment to the Yankee crew. The
captors off with their  hats and gave three cheers for Capt. Story and his
liberality. The  third time, his boat was taken at Hog Island, by a Jersey 
whale boat, and as they could not get her out, Capt. Story  was allowed to ransom
her for £63. 
G. J. says, in the marshing season, a galley and whale  boat from New
Brunswick, under Capt. Barent Altrecht,  came up Parsonage Creek and robbed Joseph
Smith and Thomas Dorlon of  two wagon loads of goods. The whale boats on the
south side  of Long Island were partly from Jersey and partly from  New England.
Their chief object was to capture oyster,  clam, and wood boats, and vessels
trading to and from  New-York, which entered the inlets and so sailed in the
south Bay.  As the trading craft went armed, obstinate fights sometimes 
occurred. The eastern whale boats were carried on men’s shoulders over the Island at
Canoe Place, and launched  in the South Bay. 
356. Chatham, N.J., April 18, ‘81. We hear the whale boat’s from Brunswick 
are making a very successful cruise to Long Island this week. 
357. May 14, ‘81. Gaine. Last Thursday was brought into New-York, by a  party
of Long Island militia, a partisan rebel Capt. Dickie, of New  Brunswick,
with thirteen of his gang of plunderers. This doughty hero  has rendered himself
notorious by his expeditions on Long Island. 
358. July 30, ‘81. Gaine. Nine Jersey plunderers in a  rebel whale boat were
taken by the Queens county militia  yesterday, and brought to town. 
359. Aut. 1, ‘81. Riv. Last Saturday night, Capt. Hicks, of Queens county, 
heard of a whale boat being in Jamaica Bay, that had  taken a sloop of Mr.
{John} Mott of Rockaway. He mustered  twenty-five of his neighbors, and proceeded
in three  boats in search of the rebels. After rowing all night, e discovered 
the whale boat and her prize at anchor, under Barren  Island, which they
determined to attack immediately. The rebels then  manned their boats in the
greatest confusion, and being cut off from the sea,  made for the Flatlands, in
Kings county. Hicks landed most of his men at  Barren Island, to cut off their
retreat, and pursued them  with only five white and three black men, in two
small  skiffs. The rebels, after a long chase, abandoned their boat,  with most of
their arms, and fled into the woods; but as  Capt. Hicks has alarmed all the
shore, he does not doubt the rebels will be  secured. The whale boat is quite
new, and had a heavy gun  in her bow. 
A new whale boat to be sold at auction at Hick’s Tavern, Far Rockaway, Aug. 
6. She is upwards of thirty-five feet long, rows eight  oars, has two good
sails and a large swivel. 
{Col. Hamilton forbids the above sale, because not reported to  him by the
captors in a proper and official manner. 
Ja.’s Abrams saw the above capture. The boatmen tried Plum Inlet, but as 
there was a fresh wind from the sought, she was cut off. They then made  for the
Old Mill, (Schenck’s) The prize had a good store of meat and  biscuit on
board. The captors named her "Lady Washington," to enhance  her value. The militia
were not obliged to go off land to attack  boats, but often volunteered to do
so in hopes of prize money. 
A privateer was manned under Barren Island to escape the press gangs. She 
gave $2 a bushel for potatoes. Market boats were licensed to have a certain 
number of hands; all over it were liable to be impressed. There were several  hot
presses in New-York; many were taken off unknown to their friends, and  never
heard of after.---Ed.} 
361. May 8, ‘82. An account was yesterday brought to town that an 
enterprising rebel partisan, said to be Hyler, had landed a number of men on Hog Island,
in the  Sound(?) There were with him three whale boats and a small privateer.
362. June 10, ‘82, Gaine, Hyler’s boats are now ranging on the  south side
of Long Island. 
Hyler or HUYLER was from New Jersey 
People would sometimes take a spy-glass and climb on the roof  of their
houses, and if they saw any whale boats in the bay, they would remove  their
valuables to a hiding place, leaving only a few articles in the house.  The robbers
would then ransack the house, curse them for their poverty, and  depart.
Stores were often nearly emptied in this way of an afternoon, and the  goods
replaced next morning. But if the owners were once caught, they were  likely to be
tortured till the goods were forth-coming. The alarm was spread  by guns for


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