The American Revolution at Sea

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.

Captain John Paul Jones, November 16, 1778

Yesterday was the 237th birthday of the United States Navy.  On October 13, 1775 the Continental Congress passed the following resolutions:

Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct.

That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an estimate of the expence, and lay the same before the Congress, and to contract with proper persons to fit out the vessel.

Resolved, that another vessel be fitted out for the same purposes, and that the said committee report their opinion of a proper vessel, and also an estimate of the expence.”

Congress thus threw down the gauntlet against the mightiest sea power in the world.  Vastly outnumbered by the Royal Navy, the United States Navy gave a good account of itself, raiding British commerce, bringing desperately needed supplies to Washington’s Continental Army, shipping diplomats like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to Europe to enlist the aid of France and other sympathetic countries, and demonstrating to an astonished world, again and again, that it was possible to beat a British warship in battle, as John Paul Jones did commanding the USS Bonhomme Richard against HMS Serapis on September 23, 1779:

The traditions of daring, courage and professional skill that have ever been the hallmark of our Navy were first established in the lopsided fight our seamen waged during the Revolution.  Go here to read a post on the  Father the United States Navy, Commodore John Barry, and here to read a post about the swashbuckling exploits of the Commodore Joshua Barney, both Catholics, both American patriots and both sailors of preternatural skill.  May our Navy have men of such calibre whenever it goes into harm’s way.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Thank you, Donald, for remembering the US Navy. As a former submariner, let me say a Hail Mary for the men of our submarine force:

    Av? Mar?a, gr?ti? pl?na, Dominus t?cum. Benedicta t? in mulieribus, et benedictus fr?ctus ventris tu?, I?sus.
    S?ncta Mar?a, M?ter De?, ?r? pr? n?b?s pecc?t?ribus, nunc et in h?r? mortis nostrae. ?m?n.

  2. I was on the ASW platform, USS Ainsworth, FF 1090 from ’88 to ’91, out of Norfolk- Sonar Tech. Atlantic or Pacific battlegroups for you?

  3. And we’ve been doing pretty dang well with less than we need ever since. ^.^ (Just ask anyone who’s EVERY dealt with the Navy Supply System– getting parts is a pain.)

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