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Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

Revolutionary War
• Opening Of The Revolution
• The Boston Massacre
• Affair of the Sloop Liberty
• Affair of the Gaspee
• The Tea Riot
• The Boston Port Bill
• The First Continental Congress-Consequent Parliamentary proceedings
• Organization of the Minute-Men
• Patrick Henry-Second Provincial Congress-First Military Enterprise
• Battles of Lexington and Concord
• Battle of Bunker's Hill
• Capture of Ticonderoga
• Second Continental Congress-Washington's Appointment
• Siege of Boston
• Incidents at the Evacuation of Boston
• Burning of Falmouth
• Arnold's Expedition to Quebec
• Siege of Quebec, and Death of Montgomery
• Scenes at Quebec during the Siege
• Expedition against Charleston
• The Declaration of Independence
• The Battle of Long Island
• Washington's Retreat through New Jersey-Capture of General Lee
• Battle of Trenton
• Battle of Princeton
• Capture of General Prescott
• Battle of Brandywine
• Battle of Germantown
• Battle of Red-Bank
• Attack on Fort Mifflin-Retirement of the Army to Valley Forge
• Battle of Bennington
• Murder of Miss M'Crea
• Battle of Stillwater
• Battle of Bemis' Heights, and Retreat of Burgoyne
• Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery
• Surrender of Burgoyne
• The Treaty with France
• Attack on Savannah, and Death of Pulaski
• Storming of Stony Point
• General Sullivan's Campaign against the Mohawks
• Tarleton's Quarters
• Battle of Camden, and Death of De Kalb
• Arnold's Treason
• The Loss of the Randolph
• The British Prison-Ships
• Capture of the Serapis
• Putnam's Feat at Horseneck
• Battle of Eutaw Springs
• Wayne's Charge at Green Spring
• Capture of the General Monk
• The Mutinies
• Battle of the Cowpens
• Capture of New London
• Massacre of Wyoming
• Surrender of Cornwallis

War With France
• Capture of L'Insurgente
• The Constellation and Vengeance

War With Tripoli
• Burning of the Philadelphia
• Bombardment of Tripoli
• Loss of the Intrepid
• Expedition of General Eaton

Second War With England
• Battle of Tippecanoe
• Capture of the Guerriere
• Tragical Affair of an Indian Chief
• Battle and Massacre at the River Raisin
• Captain Holmes's Expedition
• Capture of the Caledonia and Detroit
• The Wasp and Frolic
• Gallant Conduct of Lieutenant Allen at the Capture of the Macedonian
• Capture and Destruction of the Java
• Siege of Fort Meigs
• Capture of York, and Death of General Pike
• Defence of Sackett's Harbour
• Defence of Fort Stephenson
• Battle of Lake Erie
• Battle of the Thames
• Gallant Action of Commodore Chauncey under the guns of Kingston Citadel
• The Sacking of Hampton
• Capture of the Peacock
• Massacre at Fort Mimms
• Surrender of Weatherford
• Battle of Niagara
• BattIe of New Orleans

War With Mexico
• Battle of Palo Alto
• Battle of Resaca de la Palma
• Capture of Monterey
• Battle in the Streets of Monterey
• Thrilling Scenes in the Battle of Buena Vista
• Bombardment of Vera Cruz
• Battle of Cerro Gordo
• Battles of Contreras and Churubusco
• Storming of Chapultepec


ON the 17th of September, 1778, Commodore Paul Jones, with the two vessels, Bon Homme Richard, and Pallas, came in sight of a fleet of merchantmen, escorted by the Serapis, and Countess of Scarborough. At seven in the evening, after a tedious chase, Jones, in the Bon Homme Richard, was hailed by the commander of the Serapis, when within pistolshot, and immediately answered by a whole broadside. He then ran his ship across the enemy's bow, seized the bowsprit with his own hands, and lashed both vessels together. Sails, yards, rigging, all became eventually entangled, and the opposing cannon touched each others' muzzles. In that fearful position was fought one of the most terrible battles on naval record.

The batteries of each vessel now opened. Red-hot iron flew through and through the hulls, tearing everything in their maddening course. The water broke and dashed around them, and then rolled off in glittering waves, until lost in the surrounding darkness. But, like the hurried shock of two thunderclouds, those ships clung to each other, pouring sheets of widening flame along their sides, and strewing each deck with mangled victims. One by one the American batteries became useless, until but three cannon were fit for service. Every gun of the British was in full blast. But the iron heart of the bold sailor could not yield. Pacing on deck, from point to point, he shouted his men to their duty. Showers of death were shrieking around him, and spar after spar went down in crashing ruin. Yet still, over all that uproar, and over the groans of agony, and thunder of battle, his voice pealed like a spectre's, and sternly bound his men to duty. The waves were rushing in at every seam, until the pumps were useless, and then one appalling cry of fire, told that long resistance was impossible. Jones gazed around. On every side smothered flames were struggling to break forth. Yet on, on, like a fretted tiger, he spurned along that shattered deck, his arms folded, his face like rigid iron, and his stern shout ringing fearfully through the darkness. Once only did he pause. Three under officers, overcome by the awful scene, had called to the British commander, who now demanded if Jones had struck. “No,” was the response; and the conflict reopened.

During all this time, the soft rays of the full moon were sleeping on the rippling water, mellowing everything beneath their silvery shroud. Hundreds and thousands of spectators gazed in breathless and struck wonder, at the uproar on the waters; men of ordinary mould grew pale and nervous, at the spirit-like wrestlings of giant souls.

At half past nine o'clock, another ship hove in sight. It was the Alliance, a vessel lately deserted from Jones's squadron. Joy was diffused over the gallant crew- but it was of short duration. A broadside came rushing over the waters, splitting and rending the stern of Jones's vessel. He called to them for God's sake to forbear; but the false one swept like lightning through the waters, hurling shot after shot at the devoted ship, killing and wounding the men, and opening leaks in every direction. Cries of fear and despair rose from the little crew; the master at arms turned loose all the prisoners; and the officers crowded around their commander, praying him to surrender. But with startling energy he stamped on the burning deck, and ordered each man to his post. Then the calmness of subdued energy returned, his voice again rang out, and his men forgot to fear. GraduaUy the British fire slackened, their mainmast began to shake, and at half past ten they struck. Scarcely was there time to transport the wounded to the prize, when the Bon Homme Richard sank. The Serapis was herself on fire, and had five feet of water in the hold. “A person,” says Jones himself, “must have been an eye-witness to form a just idea of the tremendous scene of carnage, wreck, and ruin, which everywhere appeared. Humanity cannot but recoil from the prospect of such finished horror, and lament that war should be capable of producing such fata] consequences.”

The Serapis was a new ship of forty-four guns, constructed in the most approved manner, with two complete batteries; one of them eighteen-pounders. She was commanded by Commodore Richard Pearson.