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In this section of
Gaspee HistoryPage Up
Bowen Statement
Briggs Statement
Mawney Statement
Dudingston 1st


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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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Principal statements made by the participants in the Gaspee Affair

Only three American participants in the attack made public formal statements giving their version of the Gaspee attack. 

Aaron Briggs was captured and gave a confession to the British almost immediately after the attack.  But the statement of Aaron Briggs was limited by the limited knowledge he gained during his impressment into rowing an assaulting longboat, as a slave, only an hour before the attack.

Because of the need for secrecy all during the period from the attack in 1772, until the declared end of the war in 1782, nothing was written down by other participants.  Such evidence could have gotten them hanged if the writing was found by the English and they were captured by the English!  Indeed, in the early stages of the Revolutionary War, John Brown was captured by the English and accused of being involved in the Gaspee attack.  It was only the lack of evidence and his prominent public stature at a time when the English were trying to prevent a full scale rebellion by all the colonies that saved him.  During the entire Revolutionary War, the inhabitants of Rhode Island and the neighboring portions of Massachusetts kept secret the names and events involved in the Gaspee attack.!

The habits ingrained by decade of silence after 1772, combined with the threat that the English might return to rule again, and the lack of an immediate union of the colonies into one united states,  was in itself sufficient reason to delay any post-war public statements of the hidden events of the Gaspee attack.  In addition, the sacrifices and adventures of those who had engaged in the Revolutionary War, and the full-scale battles in which American lives were lost,  were at the time considered more interesting and worthy of post-war public comment.. 

Only Ephrim Bowen and John Mawney who gave formal written statements, and that was decades after the end of the Revolutionary War  The statement of Ephrim Bowen was in 1826, some 54 years after the Gaspee attack.  The statement of John Mawney, in 1839, some 67 years after the attack!   

On the English side the only participants available to give public statements were the Gaspee officers and crew.  They were under the treat of a court-martial for their surrender, and took their cue from the captain of the Gaspee: no formal statements were to be made until the court-martial, when the best formulation in their defense would be made.  Once the court-martial had completed its official proceedings, there was no reason for the defeated crew to make any more statements for the benefit of history.

Three of the officers and crew of the Gaspee gave formal statements of what happened in the attack.

Lt. William Dudingston,  the captain of the ship, gave several formal statements of what happened.  The first statement was the immediate report to his superior officer, before he would have had time to fully develop this thoughts on what would be of most advantage for him to say.  On the other hand, this man was an intelligent and experienced English navy officer, and he obviously needed to say the things which would help him in the court martial which normally followed in the English navy of the time when a ship captain lost his ship.  Dudingston's second statement was his testimony at his court martial.  Dudingston's third statement was a petition for compensation written after his court martial.

Midshipman William Dickinson, the second in command of the Gaspee, gave testimony at the the court martial of Dudingston..

Boatswain's Mate Patrick Earl, Boatswain's Mate, was the senior enlisted man on board the Gaspee at the time of the attack.  He also gave testimony at the court martial of Dudingston.  He was the sentry on duty at the time of the raid.

The following persons were members of the crew of the Gaspee, known to be on board the Gaspee during the attack, but they did not give any known written or transcribed statements describing the events.

Bowman, Joseph

Caple, William J.

Cheever, Bartholomew

Johnson, John

May, Peter

Parr, Thomas

Pullibeck, Edward

Reyumonlds, Patrick

Whaler, Patrick

Key words for indexing this article: History. Description, Statement,  Gaspee Affair, Briggs, Bowen, Mawney, Dudingston, Dickinson, Earl, Gaspee crew.

Abstract of this article: Some participants in the Gaspee battle made public statements describing the Gaspee attack