Thursday, May 06, 2010

Captain John Skimmer 1778.

Captain John Skimmer Death, 1778.

John Skimmer was commissioned in 1778, and was given the command of the General Gates in the summer of 1778, in his first action which was with the "Montague," he was killed and has left eleven children, nine of whom are unable to earn a livelihood. His widow asks for a pension.

September 14, 23, 1778. The Marine Committee reported and Congress agreed that "the eastern navy board be directed to supply 400 dollars annually, in quarterly payments, for the support of Captain Skimmer's widow and nine youngest children, and that this provision be continued three years." This is the first instance of the granting by the. United States of a pension to the family of a naval officer upon his death.

Side note. The General Gates, was a 18, gunner built in Massachusetts, date no given.

How Captain John Skimmer Died.

General Gates sailed from Marblehead on 24 May 1778, joining privateer brigantine Hawk off Cape Ann to cruise on the Newfoundland Banks. After capturing the ship Jenny and brigantines Thomas and Nancy, the two ships parted company early in August. Thereafter General Gates captured the schooner Polly.

On 3 August 1778 she intercepted the brigantine Montague under Captain Nelson, who defended his ship in an epic engagement of five hours. After expending her ammunition, Montague resorted to firing "every piece of iron of all kinds that could be rammed into the tube of the cannon," including jack knives, crowbars, and even the captain's speaking tube. A double-headed shot from General Gates crashed into Captain Nelson's cabin. Taking it up, Nelson fired it from one of his own guns. "This shot striking a swivel gun on the State's brig divided, and one part of it glancing instantly killed the active and brave Captain Skimmer." It was two more hours before Montague struck her colors and capitulated to General Gates with Lt. Dennis in command. General Gates returned to Boston Harbor with prizes Polly and Montague on 31 August 1778.

The year before his death, 1777.

John Bradford Esqr. the Agent for Prizes at Boston dated the 30th of October last informing us that the Schooner Lee, Captain Skimmer, was then out on a Cruise, and wanted to know our determination whether this vessel should be continued in the pay of the public after her return into port. As we do not think proper that the States should hire armed vessels as cruisers we now direct that this Schooner be discharged on her return, and that you settle with the Owners and pay them the balance which may be justly due to them.

Mr Bradford recommends Captain Skimmer in very warm terms as a Gentleman every way well qualified for a command in our navy, you will please to enquire particularly into his merits and if you think him deserving we would have you give him the first suitable Vessel which may be in your power.

The year of his death, 1778.

Captain Skimmer if he should behave well, which we cannot doubt after reading the good character you have given will be promoted Ceteris Paribus according to his Rank.

The Marine Committee, to whom was referred the letter of 2, from Mr. J. Bradford, report, that, upon enquiry, they find Captain Skimmer, late commander of the continental brigGeneral Gates, to have been a brave and worthy officer; that he lost his life in a severe engagement with the enemy.

We have received your favour of the 30th Ultimo advising the arrival of the Prize Brig Nancy with 2070 quintals of Fish taken by the Continental Brigt. General Gates which is a pleasing Account and we hope to hear Shortly of the other Prizes arriving from Captain Skimmer.

The war goes on.

Marine Committee to Eastern Navy Board.

We are glad to hear of the arrival of the Brigantine General Gates with her Prizes, but regret very much the loss of her late gallant commander captain Skimmer. You will please to appoint another commander and fit her out on a Cruise as soon as possible.

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