Thursday, August 24, 2017

British Fleet of 265 Ships Sighted in the Chesapeake Bay (240 Years Ago)

British Fleet of 265 Ships Sighted in the Chesapeake Bay

August 24, 1777

If you cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge keep a sharp eye out for a large British fleet consisting of 265 ships. The British fleet was sighted last on August 7 off the Atlantic Coast at Sinepuxent Island (near Assateague Island and birthplace of Stephen Decatur Jr. who later became a hero during the Barbary Wars). Intelligence sources makes me think that they will land tomorrow near Worton Creek (near Chestertown) or Elk Landing (near Elkton).

If only Lambert Wickes had been around! Wickes is not known well in either the United States or his home area of the northern Eastern Shore of Maryland. Lambert Wickes and his brother Richard came from Rock Hall, Maryland. In June 1777 Wickes with his crew on the Reprisal, Nicholson with the crew of the Dolphin and Captain Johnson of the Lexington wrecked havoc on British shipping around Ireland. All that Wickes did was capture 18 ships in 18 months but died later in 1777 on October 1 off Newfoundland as he was coming home for repairs.

We lost 3 ships in the Chesapeake Bay when the British fleet came through. Wickes would have been terribly outnumbered but one wonders just what he would have done in the situation facing 265 British ships. Would he have gathered other smaller ships and larger ships in the area and tried to make a futile stand or would he have opted to fight another day? This author's conjecture would be that he would have gone down fighting. If he could have taken out 3 ships, that would have weakened the coming land force by that amount. We eventually lost the battle of Brandywine. If Wickes had diminished the British force just a little, that little bit might have turned the battle.

Back in June 28, 1776, Lambert Wickes' broke through the British blockade of the Delaware Bay. An American privateer ship called the Nancy arrived from St. Croix and had 300 barrels of gunpowder for the Patriot cause. Lambert put his younger brother Richard in charge of the Nancy to get the gunpowder off. Richard and the crew had taken off over 200 barrels when the British blew them up. Richard Wickes and the crew of the Nancy died on the actual day that the Declaration of Independence was agreed on- July 2, 1776.

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