John Paul Jones Endangers Dutch Neutrality

John Paul Jones (Wikimedia Commons)

On the morning of September 25, 1779 from the deck of his new prize, the British frigate Serapis, John Paul Jones watched his former ship, Bonhomme Richard slide beneath the waves off Flamborough Head on Britain’s east coast.  It had been a brutal fight before the Americans prevailed over a well-handled, better-armed British vessel and became one of the most famous sea-duels in American history.  A floating wreck, Serapis’ condition made it unfit to continue with Jones’ original plan of taking the war to England by cruising for prizes.  Moreover, he was due in the Texel, a roadstead near Amsterdam where ships gathered for safer transit over waters regularly patrolled by the British fleet.   The French had a convoy gathering there and wanted an armed escort.  After spending days repairing Serapis, Jones, his small naval squadron (AlliancePallasVengeance), and his prizes (Serapis, Countess of Scarborough), reached Dutch shores on October 3.  

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“I Have not Yet Begun to Fight!” or Words to that Effect (September 23, 1779)

Bonhomme Richard (Naval History and Heritage Command)
Bonhomme Richard (Naval History and Heritage Command)

During the night of September 23/24, 1779, Captain John Paul Jones led his frigate, Bonhomme Richard, into its legendary fight with Serapis. In the midst of a battle that was not going well for the Americans, British Captain Richard Pearson asked if Jones was ready to strike his colors and surrender. Jones offered one of the most famous replies in American naval history: “I have not yet begun to fight!” Or did he? Continue reading ““I Have not Yet Begun to Fight!” or Words to that Effect (September 23, 1779)”