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John Mawney's Account of the
Attack on the Gaspee.

Doctor John Mawney and Joseph Bucklin gave medical aid
 to English ship captain Dudingston

The first written statement, but only the second most comprehensive written eye-witness account, from the Americans, of the Gaspee Affair, was given by John Mawney, in a statement published in the American and Gazette in the year 1826.



Having been absent from  home three days, I returned on the morning of the Third, which was the 9th or 10th of June 1772 , when hearing the beating of a drum down street, which was very unusual in those days, I went into the house and inquired the cause, but, gaining no information, I told [Pero] to take care of the house and I would go down street to learn the cause. Arriving at the head of the bridge I learned there was an assembling of people at James Sabin's house.  I [arrived at his house] immediately and found a large body of people before and in the house and from those without learned the object of their aim, which was the destruction of the King's schooner Gaspee.  Not long after they came out of the house and several of my acquaintances surrounded me and requested me to go with them as surgeon (to which)  knowing the interuption of the navigation of the river, by British vessels added to the resentment I felt for Capt. Preston ordering his Company to fire on the Citizens of Boston (by which with others) two of my intimate acquaintances and friends were killed March 5th, 1770.

I readily consented and went to Corlis' wharf with Capt. Joseph Tillinghast who was commander of the barge; it being the last boat that put off and in going down, we stopped at Capt Cooke's wharf where we took in staves and paving stones, which done followed our commander  and came up with them a considerable distance down the river, after which, we rowed along pretty rapidly till we came in sight of the schooner, when Capt. Abraham (the late Commodore) Whipple ordered us to form a line, which was instantly complied with; after which, we rowed gently along, till we had got near the schooner; when we were hailed from on board, with the words, "Who comes there?"

When Capt. Whipple replied, "I want to come on board."

The return was, 'Stand off, you can't come on board.'

On which Capt. Whipple roared out, 'I am the sheriff of the County of Kent; I am come for the commander of this vessel, and have him I will, dead or alive. Men, spring to your oars!' when we were in an instant on her bows.

I was then sitting with Capt. Tillinghast, in the stern of the barge, and sprang immediately forward; and seeing a rope hang down her bow, seized it, to help myself in. The rope slipping, I fell almost to my waist in the water; but, being active and nimble, I recovered, and was the first of our crew on deck; when Simeon H. Olney handed me a stave, with which, seeing one that I took to be of the crew of the schooner, floundering below the windlass, I was in the attitude of leveling a stroke, when he cried out, 'John, don't strike." Being very intimately acquainted with Capt. Samuel Dunn, I knew his voice, left him, and sprang back of the windlass, where there was commotion and noise, but which soon subsided; the crew jumping down the hold, I immediately following, when I ordered them to bring cords to tie their hands, [and told them] they should not be hurt, but would be sent on shore. They brought some tarred strings, with which I tied the hands of two behind, when John Brown, Esq., called to me, saying I was wanted immediately on deck, where I was instantly helped; when I asked Mr. Brown what is the matter, he replied, 'Don't call names, but [go] immediately into the cabin, there is one wounded, and will bleed to death.'

I hastened into the cabin, and found Lieut.' Duddingston in a sitting posture, gently inclining to the left, bleeding profusely, with a thin, white woolen blanket, loose about him, which I threw aside, and discovered the effect of a musket ball, in his left groin; and thinking the femoral artery was cut, throw open my waistcoat, and taking my shirt by the left collar, tore it to my waistband, when Mr. Duddingston said, 'Pray sir, don't tear your clothes, there is linen in that trunk;' upon which, I requested Joseph Bucklin, Jnr. to break open the trunk, and tear linen and scrape lint, which he immediately attempted; but finding the linen new and strong, could not make the lint.

I then directed him to place his hands as I had mine, which was the ball of my left hand on the orifice of the wound; and giving him the word to slip his hand under mine, and to press hard, to prevent the effusion of blood; which being done, I went to the linen, and attempted to scrape it into lint, but found I could not effect it. As daylight was fast coming on, and our time short, I then tore the linen into strips, for compresses and the necessary bandages; (which was done by knotting them into long straps), which being done, and placed the compresses five or six deep, and with the ligatures placed them by the Lieutenant.

All being prepared, I told Bucklin to raise his hands, when I instantly placed the compresses on the orifice; and placing the bandage round the thigh, over the wound, and crossing it above, drew it in tight, that the effusion of blood was stopped.

During the operation, I was several times called upon at the door, but was not ready. When the door was opened, many rushed in, and attacked the bottles. I having boots on, stamped on them, and requested others to assist, which was readily done. During this, Mr. Dudingston was carried out of the room, and I never saw him after, notwithstanding I had several invitations, through Dr. Henry Sterling.

When I came on deck, I saw Capt. Tillinghast, and some others. We got into the boat, and rowed up the river a certain distance and landed, and went by land to town; when Capt. Tillinghast, who was then living with me, after taking breakfast, went on the hill to view the smoking ruins of the vessel, which was all in flames soon after we left it."

 JOHN MAWNEY.


Note re "Joseph Bucklin Jnr": Mawney named "Joseph Bucklin, Jnr" as the second person involved with the dressing of the wounds of Dudingston.  Researcher John Concannon has looked at the original draft that John Mawney made of his statement of the Gaspee Incident before it was published, and he tells us: " In this statement, John Mawney refers to the assistant that help him treat Lt. Dudingston's wounds as 'Jos. Bucklin Jnr.'  The ' Jnr'  bit was not published by the American and Gazette in 1826, but it is quite distinctly there in his handwritten notes, and I had this confirmed by the manuscript archivist from the RIHS".  Thus it is clear that of the two Joseph Bucklins living in Providence in 1772,  Mawney identified Joseph Bucklin age 19, the son of the ship captain Joseph Bucklin, age 52.  Mawney's original draft may be found at Gaspee Papers, Rhode Island Historical Society, MSS 434. at p149.

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