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In this section of
Gaspee HistoryPage Up
Dudinston Commentary
Petition for Relief


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Go to
Gaspee Raiders
for biographical information on the Americans in the boats attacking the Royal Navy ship Gaspee.

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Books: American Colonial and Revolutionary War history or the people involved. We have suggestions for you.

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"The schooner is utterly destroyed and everything appertaining to her, me and the schooner's company."

Lt. Dudingston's first report of the destruction of the Gaspee.

Written by him to his superior officer, Admiral Montagu, as an "immediate" report of the event. [We have modernized the spelling and added paragraphing, for clarity.]


 SIR: On Wednesday morning about one o'clock, as His Majesty's schooner was lying upon a spite of land called Nancutt, the sentinels discovered a number of boats coming down the river toward us. As soon as I was acquainted with it, I came upon deck and hailed the boats, forbidding them to come near the schooner, or I should order them to be fired upon. 

They made answer, they had the sheriff with them and must come on board. I told them the sheriff could not be admitted on board at that time of night, on which they set up a halloo and rowed as fast as they could towards the vessel's bows. I was then using every means in my power to get the guns to bear upon them, which I could not effect as they came right ahead of the vessel, she being aground.

I then ordered the men to come forward with their small arms and prevent them from boarding. As I was standing myself to oppose them, and making a stroke with my sword, at the man who was attempting to come up, at that instant I found myself disabled in my left arm and shot through the groin.

I then stepped from the gunwale with an intention to order them to retire to close quarters, but soon saw that most of them were knocked down and myself twice, after telling them I was mortally wounded. They damned me and said I was not wounded; if I was my own people had done it. As loss of blood made me drop upon deck, they ordered me to beg my life and commanded the people to surrender. As I saw there was no possibility of defending the vessel against such numbers, who were in every respect armed and commanded with regularity, by one who personated the sheriff, I thought it best for the People's preservation to propose to them that I would order them to surrender if they assured me they should not be hurt, which they did, I then called out which was immediately echoed by the people around me, that I had given them orders to surrender. 

They hurried all the people below and ordered them up one by one and tied their hands behind their backs, then ordered them into different boats.

I then begged they would either dispatch me or suffer my wounds to be dressed. Upon that they allowed my servant to be unbound, to get me things for dressing and carried me below. But what was my surprise when I came down in the cabin, two surgeons were ordered down from the deck, to dress me, who were furnished with drops and began to scrape lint for that purpose. 

During this time I had the opportunity of observing the persons of about a dozen who were in the cabin. They appeared to me to be merchants and masters of vessels, who were at my bureau reading and examining my papers. 'They promised to let me have the schooner's books and my clothes; instead of which, as they were handing me up to go on the boat, they threw them overboard, or into some of the boats.

I was soon afterwards thrust into a boat, almost naked. During the time they were rowing me on shore, I had the opportunity of observing the boat, which appeared to me to be a very large long boat. I saw by the man who steered her a cutlass lying by him, and directing the men to have their arms ready. As soon as they put off the sheriff gave them orders to land me on some neck and the boat to come off immediately and told me if I did not consent to pay the value of the rum I must not expect to have anything saved. I made answer whatever reparation law would give I was ready and willing; as to my things they might do with them as they pleased. They were accordingly going to land me on this neck, which I told them they had better throw me overboard.

One man, who had a little more humanity than any of the rest said they had better land me on the point of Pawtuxet. As I was unable to stand they unbound five of the men and gave them a blanket to carry me up. 

When I was half way on shore I heard some of the schooner's guns go off and heard the people say she was on fire. I had not been carried far when the people exclaimed, I was on an island, and they saw no house on which they laid me down and went in quest of one. Soon after they came to acquaint me they saw one, which I was carried to, a man was immediately dispatched to Providence for a surgeon. 

A little after the people joined me with a midshipman; all of whom I could persuade I sent on board His Majesty's sloop BEAVER. 

The schooner is utterly destroyed and everything appertaining to her, me and the schooner's company. If I live I am not without hope of being able to convict some of principal people that were with them. The pain, with the loss of blood rendered me incapable of informing you before of the particulars. There are none of the people anyways wounded, but bruised with handspikes.

I am Sir,

Your most Humble Servant,

W. Dudingston.