The SAR Magazine

Spring 2018

The SAR MAGAZINE is the official quarterly publication of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution published quarterly.

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Page 29 of 47

30 SAR MAGAZINE It was reported that later that same day, Whaley sent a scout ship to acquire intelligence on the location of the British. The American scout ship, pretending to be a British vessel under British colors, journeyed out from Onancock Creek to Tangier Island, Virginia, where the scout ship's captain met with a man with the last name of Crockett. Mistakenly thinking he was talking to fellow Tory, Crockett let the Americans know that the British had been at his house earlier that day with intentions of spending the night at Kedges Straits, north of Smith Island. Early on the morning of Nov. 30, 1782, after receiving intelligence from the American scout ship, Whaley met with his flotilla captains and they all agreed to advance on the British and, if necessary, sink together. The Americans sailed west from the area of Crisfield and arrived in the area of Kedges Straits around 9:30 that morning. According to a report from Col. John Cropper of Virginia, as the Americans rounded the southeastern corner of the Straits, the British were "endeavoring to make their escape; however they soon" turned around and rowed toward their American pursuers. The first reported firing allegedly came from the British 500 yards away from the Americans. Whaley, on the lead American ship Protector, began firing on the British flotilla. He was joined in the attack on both of his sides by two other American barges, named Fearnaught and Defence. Not long into the battle, a fourth American barge, Terrible, commanded by Robert Dashiell, turned away from the engagement, never to re-engage with the enemy. For this behavior, Dashiell would later be brought before the Maryland government on charges of behavior unbecoming of an officer and was officially cashiered by the government. As Cropper of Virginia noted, "this dastardly conduct of our comrades brought on [us] the whole fire of the enemy which was very severe, and it was as severely answered by the Protector until the enemy's barges were within 50 yards." It was around this time that the Protector became disabled by an onboard explosion. Apparently, the alleged cause of the explosion was "the carelessness of one of [Protector's] men who carried a cartridge and uncovered powder bag across the deck to a gun." Before the spilled gunpowder on the deck could be sufficiently dampened, the fire from a gun ignited the powder, resulting in one of the ammunition chests exploding. This accident completely disabled Protector and shifted the balance of the battle. As Cropper noted, after the explosions, the enemy, "almost determined to retreat from the Americans' firing guns, took new spirit at this disaster and pushed up with redoubled fury." The British soon boarded the Protector, resulting in fierce hand-to-hand combat involving pikes, bayonets and cutlasses. By the time the British boarded, Whaley was either dead or mortally wounded. Accounts from survivors indicate that after most of the American crew was driven from their positions along the rail, a general cry on board was for quarters, which the British positively refused. One report noted that "little mercy was shown to any of us." The chaos of the scene was soon brought to an end. Most of the Americans aboard Protector were killed, wounded or taken prisoner by the British. One of the survivors, Cropper, was wounded by a blow to the head from a cutlass. He was able to negotiate the release and return of those few taken alive. The remaining American barges withdrew, resulting in a British victory. British raids along the Chesapeake would continue into the following year. Today, the general vicinity of the battle site is marked by the Solomon's Lump lighthouse in Kedges Straits, which sits atop a caisson in the middle of the straits. Local Smith Islanders still tell the folktale that Solomon ("Uncle Sol") Evans (1760-1852), for whom Solomon's Lump is named, always claimed that he watched the Battle of the Barges from atop a tree in his yard located near the northern tip of Smith Island. Upon arriving at the lighthouse, the SAR tour attendees participated in a brief memorial service to honor those Patriots who fought and died in Kedges Straits. Participating in the laying of wreaths and flowers over the water were members of chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution from across Maryland and Virginia. After the memorial service, the tour proceeded to the town of Ewell on Smith Island, where the group was treated to a presentation by Troy Nowak of the Maryland Historical Trust. Nowak discussed how the trust conducted an extensive archeological survey of Kedges Straits in 2011 in order to ascertain if any physical evidence of the battle has survived. Because none of the ships in this battle sank, the survey team attempted to locate any evidence of objects (edged weapons, firearms, cannon balls, etc.) that fell to the bottom during the battle. The survey of the site using magnetometer and side scan sonar systems indicated at least one location that could contain archeological objects from the battle. Further underwater exploration, involving diving archeologists, would have to be done to identify specific objects and potentially retrieve them for study and public display. After feasting on a delicious Smith Island seafood luncheon, the tour group had time to tour the exhibits of the Smith Island Cultural Center, which included a recently conserved cannon ball recovered on the island that is believed to be from the War of 1812. The group then took a return cruse to Crisfield. The weather, company and education made for a truly remarkable experience for everyone. For at least that day, the members of the tour group were able to connect with our Patriot ancestors in a special, experiential way that they are not likely to forget. Westminster Chapter The Westminster Chapter held its first George Washington Birthday Luncheon on Feb. 10 at The Buttersburg Inn in Union Bridge, Maryland. The guest speaker was retired Maj. Gen. James Adkins, currently the first vice president of the Maryland SAR, who spoke on George Washington and the Maryland 400. Following lunch, Adkins described Washington's rise to becoming the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and his interaction with the Maryland First Regiment—in particular, of that portion that became known as the Maryland 400 after the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, also known as the Battle of Long Island, the first large-scale battle of the American Revolution. During this battle, 263 Marylanders died while attacking a British strong point six times, providing Washington's troops the needed cover and time to retreat to fight another day. Washington remarked while watching the Marylanders' attacks, "My God! What brave fellows I must this day lose!" During his remarks, Adkins showed photos of the From left, Barry Howard, C. Don Warner, Marvin Devilbiss, Bill Hiatt, Maryland Society SAR First Vice President Jim Adkins and Westminster Chapter President Jim Engler. [A. Howard Photo]

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