Hannings, Bud. "Captain John Trevett, USMC", (usmilitaryhistory.com/seniram, posted - July 10, 2011.)
JT, Brenna. "Find a Grave Memorial: Capt. John Trevett (1747-1823)", (www.findagrave.com, record added: October 13, 2009.)
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia:The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1999.)
Lincoln, Charles Henry. Naval Records of the American Revolution, 1775-1783, (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1906.)
Smith, Charles M. Marines in the Revolution: Continental Marines in the American Revolution, 1775-1783, (Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1975.)
As can be seen from the previous post, "...To Sail the Deep Blue Sea, In Defiance of the British Crown...": John Trevett, Captain of Marines on board the Frigate South Carolina: A Revolutionary Life, Lived Well and Widely, With a Few Questions Remaining -" and dated "10/05/2017", Captain of Marines John Trevett had already led a very exciting life by any standards. He had been involved in two invasions of the British-held Bahamas Islands with his foreknowledge gained in the first invasion significantly contributing to the success of the second invasion attempt. He had successfully piloted several prize vessels back into Rhode Island harbors. He had been on board Continental Navy ships-of-war that pursued many enemy ships and been pursued by more than a few enemies himself. And, yet, he had not reached the decks of the ship which is the object of this overall post -- the South Carolina states ship, the South Carolina. In order to reach her decks and sail on board her, Captain of Marines John Trevett would need to reach the other shore of the Atlantic Ocean, which, in fact, he would do.
According to Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, page 337, after the incident concerning the Rattlesnake, John Trevett traveled to Newport, RI and found the patriot ship-of-war Trumbull ready to put to sea. It seems that John Trevett signed on board in the hope that this ship might encounter the HMS Galatea and John Trevett could be "...Revinged [revenged] on them...". Instead, the patriot ship-of-war Trumbull encountered a heavily-gunned British ship-of-war and was heavily damaged in the fight that ensued. Again according to Smith's work, page 337, by Captain of Marines John Trevett's estimates the Trumbull "... Lost forty thre [three] Men Killed and Wounded...". It does not become evident to the reader of John Trevett's diary that he was among the wounded until one is towards the ending of this account. At that point, according to Smith's work, page 337, one reads that:
"Arfter [after] I Arrived att Boston A wound I had in My foot made me so Lame that I was Obliged to Hire a Hors [horse] to Carre [carry] Me to East Grenwitch and all I Gott by this Cruse [cruise] was to pay My one Expences for the Privateer we took was no Grate [great] Consequence now have a Lettel [little] time to Rest, by My face and Eyes Which was blown sune [soon] Gott the Better but My foot Very lame -- I Arrived att Grenwitch 23. of June so Ends this unfortunitt [unfortunate] cruse [cruise] -- Commadore [Commodore] James Nicholson Commanded and I Called him a Brave officer --".
Captain of Marines John Trevett's face and eyes healed quickly by this account but, his foot wound continued to bother him for some time after he received it. By all accounts, these were the first physical, visible wounds sustained by John Trevett during his maritime services during the course of the American Revolution. According to Smith's work, page 337, the account continues as such:
"Now is towards the Last of June and I have bene [been] home but A short time My face and Eyes is well in a Maner [manner]; but My foot in Very Lame I have Jest Recevd [received] an Envitaiton [invitation] to go with an old Acquaintence [acquaintance] Capt. Elisha Hinman of New London he has a Good ship Called the Deian [Deane] Mounting thirty Tew [thirty-two] Guns and I think I can Gett well on board as well as on shore -- and I am a fitting My self in My own Mind to go -- well I have made Tew [two] Bad Cruses [cruises] I will Try Again...".
Captain of Marines John Trevett embarked on the patriot ship-of-war Deane at some point around July 2, 1780. Off the Banks of Newfoundland, they took "...a Brigg from Ganzea [Ghana or Gambia?] bound to Hallefax [Halifax] Her Cargo Jenevea & Brany Carstel soap and other Goods we ordered her for Boston...".
The next prize that the Deane took was "...a Letter of Mark [Marque] ship Called the Elizabeth from the strates [Straits?] she Mounted sixteen Guns & when we took her she had sixty Men...".
But, according to Smith's work, page 337, the plot thickens at this point:
"...we had taken All her Men out butt 16 When Tew [two] ships Bore Down before we had time to take out any More of thare [their] Men so that Capt. Hinman told the prize Master Mr. Ebberns and My self incase [in case] tha [they] should be Armed ships for us to Make the Best of our way for Boston...".
(Note: The "..prize Master Mr. Ebberns..." referred to in this passage is most probably the same individual named John Ervin who would also serve on board the frigate South Carolina in the capacity of a prize master on board captured enemy ships. Thus, according to the brief passage above in which John Ervin is referenced, he and John Trevett were acquainted with each other due to previous service on board of patriot ships-of-war.)
Eventually, the prize ship Elizabeth was pursued by an armed ship flying English colors who chased them until she was within hailing distance. According to Smith's work, page 337, the account of the incident continues as follows:
"When she Got Neair [near] to us and Hailed us an [and] orderd us to Heave our Main Top Sail to the Mast and orderd our Cullers [colors] Down we complied and thare [their] Barge was sune [soon] on board and we as sune [soon] had a New ship she was Called the New Marcary [Mercury] of thirty six Guns Commanded by Isaack Prescot he was Brother to Generel Prescut as sune [soon] as we ware [were] on board Capt. Prescut sune [soon] began to Examen [examine] us and was not Very Pleasent [pleasant] oing [owing] Partely [partly] to his firing upwards of fifty shot before we Haled [hauled] our Cullers [colors] Down he was determined as he said to Me If we had fired one shot att His ship he would have sunk us and would not take up a Man....".
Thus, after so many hair-breadth escapes, daring assaults, and near misses with superior enemy forces, Captain of Marines John Trevett finally found himself in British hands as a captured rebel officer. He and his shipmates were taken to St. Johns, Newfoundland for initial incarceration there. According to Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, page 338, the account is as follows:
"...Emeadetly [Immediately] Arfter he Examened [examined] My Tew [two] ship Mates [Mr. Eberns (John Ervin) and a Mr. Channing] we ware [were] sent Emeadely [immediately] on board the Porteas [Porteus] Prison ship as that was the Name of the ship and the Capt. Name Was Brocannon [possibly, Buchannon] and a Grator [greater] Villen [villain] Could not be Left un hung... Who Ever has an Ideair [idea] of a Furter [future] Punishment Can not Make a worse Floating Hell then [than] a British Prison ship...".
It seems from Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Diary of John Trevett, Captain of Marines", that John Trevett was only a prisoner-of-war with the British for a relatively brief period of time. Less than two pages latter, Captain of Marines John Trevett had convinced a British officer to place him "...on board a Brigg Bound to Barbados...". According to the account recited in Smith's work, page 339, the brig traveled southward:
"...untill the 10 [10th] Day att Night When we fell in with a French friget [frigate] Called the Amazune [Amazon] Commanded by Capt. Latoch the first Lieut Name was Costabele he spoke Good English tha [they] boarded our Brigg About 12 Aclock [o'clock] att Night the officer that boarded us treated us one and all well; Allowed us to bring All our Cloth and What we Ware [were] Amind [a-minded] but still thare [there] was a Nother [another] Misforton [misfortune] Redey [ready] for us the sea Runing [running] Hie [high] and our boat Rether [rather] Crowded the first stroke A Long side [alongside] of the friget [frigate] stove our boat and Left us a padeling [paddling] in the sea but fortenet [fortunate] for us not one Life was Lost so Expedeshus [expeditious] tha [they] ware [were] with Ropes hove over that tha [they] saved Every Man; but Nothing of the boat or any thing we had in the boat ware [were] saved What was the Most of My Misforten [misfortune] I never untill then Lost My Commision [commission] and some other papers I set by this was in November 1780...".
All the personnel of the brig were taken as prisoners onto the French frigate Amazon. While Captain of Marines John Trevett was on board this French frigate, he had an encounter with a French officer that changed the trajectory of the adventure for him personally. Again, according to Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Diary of John Trevett, Captain of Marines", pages 339-340, the account continues as follows:
"...the Next Day I sune [soon] had an opertunety [opportunity] to speak to the first Lieut. Arfter [after] I informed him I was an American and there was one More on Board he Asked Me a Number of Questions About Newport that Gave him All the satisfaction he Wanted he Emeadely [immediately] had some Cloth for Me to shift and Plased [placed] Me with the Doctors of the ship and Provided Me with Every thing I Could Wish to Make me Comfortabel [comfortable] I found this ship had bene [been] from Newport butt ten Days tha [they] Maned [manned] the Prize and orderd [ordered] her for france we Made all said [sail] and went on to france as this ship had Dispaches [dispatches] and Col. Rochambo [Rochambeau] Was Pasenger [passenger] on Board Nothing of Any Consequence hapeng [happening] and in fifteen Days from the Time we are [were] taken we Arrived safe att Leorient [L'Orient, France]...".
Until this date of arrival in L'Orient, France, all of Captain of Marines John Trevett's adventures, escapes, and naval actions fought had taken place on the New World side of the Atlantic Ocean. But, now he found himself in France, an ally of the embattled American colonies, which, were in turn, was now on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean from where he had originally stood. Immediately upon his arrival in France, Captain of Marines John Trevett encountered "...My Old Commadore [commodore] Paul Jones he was on board A sloop of Warr [war] Called the Ariel and All Redey [ready] to sail for America the Next Day...". John Trevett turned down an opportunity to sail under John Paul Jones and showed an interest in signing on board of a French frigate, primarily because the French ship-of-war was supposedly to act as a convoy for several ships bound for America. According to Hannigs's article, "Captain John Trevett, USMC", page 6, John Trevett later "...went aboard a prize ship and participated in two cruises.".
But, eventually Captain of Marines John Trevett heard of another opportunity to return across the Atlantic Ocean to his home shores of America. According to Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Diary of John Trevett, Captain of Marines", page 341:
"A New Cruse [cruise] I went from Dunkirk to Calas [Calais], And then to Bullen [Boulogne] Whare [where] the same ounners [owners] Ware [were] A fixing out a Cutter Privatear [privateer] of Twenty Tew [two] Guns, Carring [carrying] Tew [two] Hundred Men Mr. John Erven and My self partely [partly] Agread [agreed] to sail in the Cutter, but finding A Number of Americans that had bene [been] a sailing in the same Employ, and had Carred [carried] in a Grate [great] Number of Prizes, and never Could Gett [get] no settlement. with the Oners [owners], we John Erven and My self, Concluded to go threw [through] Flanders into Holland, so as to Gett [get] to Amsterdam As we had herd [heard] of the ship South Carolina Lay thare, we sune [soon] satt [set] out and Arrived att [at] Amsterdam in March 1781.".
Finally, after all his adventures, hair-breadth escapes, daring bluffs and captures, chases at sea, John Trevett, Captain of Marines, has at last reached the decks of the frigate South Carolina - the object of this overall blog. According to his own diary, as contained in Smith's work, page 341, John Trevett arrived in Amsterdam "...in March 1781..." and, almost immediately, events began to happen for him. Again, according to Smith's work, page 341:
"The Next Day Arfter [after] we Arrived att [at] Amsterdam I fell in with an old Acquantance [acquaintance] Capt. Wm. [William] Haden of N. [New] Bedford, he had a ship of sixteen Guns A Letter of Mark He offered Generosly [generously] a Pasage [passage] to Boston, I Gave him for Anser [answer] I was Obliged [oblidged] to him for his Generous offer, but his ship was not of forse [force] for Me,...".
(Note: It would appear that Captain of Marines John Trevett's answer to Captain William Haden's offer of a berth on his "letter of marque" ship to Boston did not meet with his approval because he felt that the "...ship was not of forse [force] for Me...". John Trevett only identifies this patriot ship-of-war as "...A Letter of Mark..." under the command of "...Capt. William Haden of N. Bedford...". According to Lincoln's work, Naval Records of the American Revolution, page 363, this was almost certainly the Massachusetts ship Juno under the command of William Haydon and is described as follows:
Date of Commission: October 20, 1780
Massachusetts ship Juno
Master: William Haydon
Bonders: William Haydon, Boston; Leonard Jarvis, Boston; Benjamin Jarvis, Boston
Owners: Jarvis & Russell, Boston
Witnesses: Rhodes Arnold, Robert Caldwell
The reason for Captain of Marines John Trevett turning down the offer from the captain of the Juno to sail with him back to America is not given. But, it can be inferred from Trevett's response that he felt the ship was too small and possibly would be fair game for any Royal Navy or loyalist privateer it might encounter on its voyage back to Boston, MA. Trevett may also have felt that he could not properly exercise his authority and position as a commissioned Captain of Marines on board a ship with a crew of only twenty-five men.)
According to Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Diary of John Trevett, Captain of Marines", page 341, the account continues as follows:
"...Att [at] the same time I informed him I would Wish to see Commadore [Commodore] Gillon; Capt. Hadden informed Me he was Ackquainted [acquainted] with the Commadore and Emeadetly [immediately] Capt. Haden Mr. John Ervan and My self went the same Day and saw the Commadore [Commodore] and Engaid [engaged] to sail in the South Carolina frigett [frigate], she then Lay Att [at] the Tuxel [Texel] sixty Miles from Amsterdam, Arfter [after] we tarred [tarried] in Amsterdam some time, we went Down on board the ship att [at] the Taxel [Texel] and thare [there] we Lay until September and then we salled [sailed] for America...".
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, pages 33 & 39, the frigate South Carolina actually left The Texel on August 4, 1781 but, reframed from moving away from the Dutch coastline until the small convoy she was supposed to escort across the Atlantic Ocean had assembled under her protection. But, on August 24, 1781, Commodore Alexander Gillon, commanding officer on board the frigate South Carolina, felt that the patriot frigate could no longer delay an d turned his ship-of-war into the North Sea for the voyage home. According to Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Diary of John Trevett, Captain of Marines", page 341, John Trevett continues his narrative on board the frigate South Carolina as follows:
"...we went North About and in the North See [Sea] we Took an English Privatear of sixteen guns she was a Brigg, we ordered her for france...".
Captain of Marines John Trevett cited the incident of the taking of the brig Alexander which is cited in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 39. The privateer brig was sighted by the frigate South Carolina on September 6, 1781 and chased for two days before she struck her colors on September 8, 1781. This incident is recorded in this overall blog in the post entitled "The Alexander or Prize to the South Carolina: The Story of the Frigate South Carolina's Second Prize, Her Fate, and the Fate of Her Prize Crew - Information Introduced and New Findings -" and dated "11/24/2015". But, John Trevett fails to mention the taking of the first prize of the frigate South Carolina - the unnamed "ship" whose fate is recorded in the post entitled "A Vessel Unnamed in History" - The Story of the Frigate South Carolina's First Prize -" and dated "05/04/2015". Even Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 39, limits this incident to simply stating that "...he [Alexander Gillon] now spent considerable time chasing prizes, running one down off Berwick on England's east coast.". The writer of this blog finds it interesting, yet also deeply frustrating, that the name of this "ship" remains unrecorded and seems to be lost to history. Even another perspective as that of Captain of Marines John Trevett still sheds no new light on this chronologically distant incident.
The first port of call for the frigate South Carolina was Corunna, Spain on the European side of the Atlantic Ocean. According to a rather brief entry in his personal diary, page 341, John Trevett described some of the fascinating buildings and other unusual architectural features, confining himself to the humorous observation that "...to say the Bildings [buildings] are built of stone and Appeared to be in a Very Old Stile [style] if [as if] itt had bene [been] built A short time Arfter [after] the Fload [Flood]...".
Shortly after, the frigate South Carolina continued its voyage to America. Again, according to Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Diary of John Trevett, Captain of Marines", page 341, John Trevett continues his tale with:
"...the Next Prize we fell in with was a Brigg [brig] from St. Johns Newfound Land Bound to Lisbun [Lisbon], she was Called the Venus Mr. Jere Peirce was Prize Master, and I went his Mate we had Al [all] french Man [Frenchmen] on board,... -- Now, we are sailing in the Venus Brigg, Teneveffe [Tenerife] in sight, and the South Carolina frigett [frigate] in Company, we Are now Arrived att [at] Santa Cruze [Santa Cruz de Tenerife] in Tennevefe [Tenerife],...".
Thus, Captain of Marines John Trevett served once again in the capacity of a prize master/mate on board of a captured British ship as the frigate South Carolina continued her voyage towards the New World. Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 45, gives the following account of the capture of the brig Venus:
"A few days out of Corunna the South Carolina took her next prize, the Venus, a brig from Newfoundland under Capt. John Hawkins bound for Lisbon with 1,600 quintals of salt fish. The South Carolina was noticeably slow during most chases, but the Venus was a very dull sailer, so slow that Joyner ordered her towed after capture rather than letting the prize proceed under sail... With the Venus in tow, the South Carolina continued south. Gillon manned the new prize with an American prize master and first mate. For seamen, the Commodore placed a complete French-speaking contingent aboard. These Frenchmen may have been the ones tainted with participation in the mutiny at Corunna. The Venus's crew was apparently taken aboard the frigate.".
(Note: the unit of measurement known as the quintal is defined in the Wikipedia article "Quintal" as follows:
"The quintal or centner is a historical unit of mass in many countries which is usually defined as 100 base units of either pounds or kilograms... In British English, it referred to to the hundredweight; in American English, it referred to an uncommon measure of 100 kilograms.".
Thus, when she was captured by the frigate South Carolina, the brig Venus was carrying either 160,000 pounds or kilograms of salt fish. To the writer of this blog this seems an unlikely amount of salt fish for such a small vessel to be carrying. But, possibly carrying this excessive weight of salt fish is why the brig Venus was such a sluggish ship in terms of sailing and handling qualities and was easily pursued and overtaken by the patriot frigate.)
From John Trevett's own account, as contained within Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Diary of John Trevett, Captain of Marines", page 341, as well as the citation of the event in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 45, we know that Jeremiah Pierce was the prize master of the brig Venus while John Trevett was his first mate. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 161, Jeremiah Pierce is cited as an individual for whom "no position" is given. But, he must have had some undocumented talents for him to be appointed as a "prize master" by Commodore Alexander Gillon. John Trevett also goes on to confirm that the entire crew of the prize brig Venus was French.
The port of call in St. Croix, Tenerife was the final European stop prior to the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a westward direction towards the New World. According to Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Dairy of John Trevett, Captain of Marines", pages 341-342, John Trevett continues his account as follows:
"...Arfter [After] Discarging [discharging] part of our Cargo, the Commadore [Commodore] sent orders to Delever [deliver] her to a Gentleman from the shore and then Mr. Perce [Jeremiah Pierce] and our Crew went on board and we sailed Again on Another Cruse [cruise], we Run to the Southward and Run Down the Trade Winds till [until] we Gott [got] well to the Westward, then we Halled [hauled] to the Northward and Arrived of [off] Charleston Barr [bar] and saw English Cullers [colors] Afling [a-flying] and a Number of Large ships, we then Bore Away for Abaco, one of the Bahama Islands Arfter [after] Making Abaco, we Ran Down between Abaco and New Providence, and as we Goot [got] into the Gulf we fell in with three Large ships from Jamaca [Jamaica] Letters of Marks [Marques], and Tew Briggs without Guns, we Made Prizes of the Hole fife [whole five] sail, Mr. James Dick was put in Prize Master, and I went As his Mate on board of one of the Prizes, and we all Arrived safe Att [at] the Havanah [Havana]...".
At least two pieces of important information are provided in Smith's work, Marines in the Revolution, "Appendix C: Diary of John Trevett, pages 341-342. First, we know more details concerning the ultimate fate of the brig Venus once she and the frigate South Carolina reached St. Croix in the Canary Islands. Captain of Marines John Trevett clearly stated that the Commodore - Alexander Gillon - "...sent orders to deliver her to a Gentleman from the shore...". This particular "Gentleman" turned out to be one of the "passengers" who had thus far travelled on board the frigate South Carolina. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 46, the following set of events took place almost immediately after the patrito frigate reached the safety of St. Croix's harbor:
"The Commodore took immediate steps to sell his prize Venus. The Commodore transferred to fish to two neutral vessels in St. Croix to market on the continent, assigning midshipmen to supervise the unloading and storing of this commodity. To the disgust of some of his crew, Gillon peddled the prize to a Dutch passenger and volunteer, Augustine Buyck, who in turn sent the brig on to Cadiz, presumably for resale. Gillon may have sold the Venus to Buyck to avoid a lengthy stay in port negotiating the best price or to avoid having to pay Spanish taxes on captures. At least one crewmember criticized this sale on the grounds that it resulted in a low price, producing less than it might have to divide. This critic further implied that Buyck and Gillon would later determine a true - that is higher - value between themselves and pocket the difference. This would not be the last time Gillon found a controversial way to dispose of prizes.".
It can be assumed that the ship and any cargo still on board passed into his care. The prize crew that brought the brig Venus into the harbor at St. Croix then once again boarded the frigate South Carolina for their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to America.