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Bob Stockton

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The Capture of the HMS Highflyer
By Bob Stockton
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rated "G" by the Author.

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More dialogue with the ghost of my great-great-great grandfather, Commodore 'Fighting Bob.'

“In truth, grandson, this cruise began rather inauspiciously. In early May we fell upon the 16 gun sloop HMS Curlew and offered battle. Curlew, being outgunned chose to evade and she outran us.”


“At this juncture our Commodore Rodgers ordered Congress to proceed independently and we parted company, sailing along the Gulf Stream in search of British merchantmen to seize. We continued along this northerly course throughout May and June without having seen any of the enemy’s convoys. By the end of June we were running quite low on stores and put into  Bergen, Norway to replenish our drinking water supply.”


“Our fortunes soon took a turn for the better after exiting Norway as we captured two of the enemy’s merchantmen. It was a most fortuitous turn of events as we were able to reprovision our stores at the expense of the British.”


“Not long after this event two British men-of-war appeared on the horizon. After some scrutiny the Commodore determined them to be ships of the line and ordered that we retire. Well, sir the chase was on! We showed them our stern, setting all our sails to avoid the more heavily gunned vessels. Finally after three days chase we had outdistanced them and continued our quest to disrupt the enemy’s supply line.”



“Sailing within the Irish Channel for several more weeks we captured  more merchantmen before setting a course for home. It was shortly after that we became party to a most unusual encounter. We captured the HMS Highflyer without firing a shot!”


“How in the world did you ever accomplish that?”


“With deception and a bit of luck, Robert. I can tell you, I never tire of recounting this tale. Ha!”


“Allright, Granddad. Let’s hear it.”


“Ha-ha-ha. The Commodore had captured  a British warship off Newfoundland earlier in the year and discovered a book containing the Royal Navy flag signals. When Highflyer hove into view off Nantucket on the  morning of September 23rd, I believe it was, the Commodore ran up signal flags that indicated that President was a British frigate and invited Highflyer to come alongside for reprovisioning. Once alongside the Captain of Highflyer, a Lieutenant Hutchinson came aboard and was promptly taken prisoner. In addition to the prize we discovered additional British signals and other important despatches. The Commodore outfitted Highflyer with a prize crew and set her sailing for Newport while Mr. Hutchinson, no longer a sloop of war Captain, remained on board President. Hahahaha!! I never tire of retelling that tale. The look on Mr. Hutchinson’s face when he discovered the trickery will remain with me throughout my journey.”

       Web Site: Navy Publishing

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