1778 Scottish Paper Reports Ranger Scare
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Written by SeacoastNH Archive

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Historic Portsmouth #332   

In 1778 a crew of Piscataqua sailors attacked ports in Scotland, England and Ireland. They arrived aboard the sloop of war RANGER built at Kittery and Portsmouth. Their captain was John Paul Jones. The attack is among the best known naval events of the Revolutionary War. (Continued below)



As a collector of John Paul Jones ephemera, I’ve always been curious about how the locals in Great Britain reacted to the “terrorist” attack by our guys. Now I know. I hold in my hands a copy of the Edinburgh Advertiser from Tuesday April 28, 1778. It includes a detailed report of the RANGER’s raid on the port at Whitehaven and the robbery at the estate of the Earl of Selkirk. The article lists the merchant ships destroyed by the Americans and notes that John Paul Jones was actually a Scotsman attacking his own home port. But the Scottish press was sympathetic with the American cause, noting that the raids were the fault of the British government that had not adequately prepared the local defenses in Scotland. According to the newspaper, Jones had intended to invade and lay waste to Whitehaven, but stormy weather foiled his plans. Only one British boat was damaged and many of Jones’ men (“from Piscataqua in New England”) sat out the raid in a local pub. The day this newspaper was published the RANGER defeated HMS DRAKE in one of the first significant displays of naval power and skill by the new American nation. The raid pushed up British insurance rates and helped turn the opinion of citizens in Great Britain against a fruitless and costly war. (Courtesy of SeacoastNH.com)  

332_Edinburgh Advertiser from April 1778

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332_Ranger raid on Whitehaven detail

Another detail follows


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