(Note: an account of the capture of the frigate, South Carolina, was carried in the "Bristol Journal" (Felix Farley, ed.) on Saturday, January 25, 1783. The information used in this article was gleaned from the dispatches of Admiral Digby.)
I first became aware of the frigate South Carolina after reading the book Neptune's Militia: the Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution. This fine book was written by James A. Lewis, PhD, and published by The Kent State University Press in 1999. It tells the enthralling story of this powerful yet peculiar ship, her immigrant-patriot captain, her very capable and courageous junior officers, and her multiethnic crew, speaking a number of different languages. That this ship even sailed from the Dutch port where she was built was a minor miracle largely attributed to the skill and resourcefulness of her captain. That he was able to enlist a set of men as mixed as her crew was and lead these men across the Atlantic Ocean as a unified military force capable of capturing a foreign, enemy-held island is remarkable, to say the least. It is a story of the American Revolution that begged to take its rightful place in the mythos of the beginnings of our nation. Yet, until Dr. Lewis's efforts, this story was all but forgotten.
It is the intent of this writer to try to tell as many of the individual, human stories connected with the ship so that the whole picture of the life of this vessel may be observed by a reader of these lines. This will be a constant work-in-progress. As new information is located, it will be incorporated into the story of the South Carolina where it fits best. What this writer hopes to eventually provide is an elaborate, detailed, unfolding drama of the life of this ship, her crew, her voyages and her ultimate fate, as much of it as we know or can guess at. Through all of this collection and recording of information, this writer hopes to give a human form,face and voice to the lives of the men who chose to sign onto the frigate, South Carolina, and sail out onto the deep blue sea in defiance of the mightiest naval power of the 18th century.