Sunday, October 3, 2010

More Neighborly Cape May History We Should Know

Cape May Court House:
Settlers on the peninsula of Cape May, framed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay, were well aware of the naval actions during the Revolutionary War days. This area, at the tip of Southern New Jersey, experienced the first naval action of the war in June 1776.

On June 29, Captain Montgomery in the brig 'Nancy', bound from St. Croix and St. Thomas, Virgin Island, for Philadelphia, was closely pursued by six British Men-of-War. Captain Montgomery ran his vessel aground at Cape May and protected by a heavy fog succeeded in removing a large part of his cargo, which was mostly powder and arms for the Continental Congress. After the fog had lifted and it was evident the British were going to board the brig, Captain Montgomery thwarted her seizure by placing gun powder around his cabin and in the folds of the main sail as he and the crew abandoned ship after starting a small fire. Crews of the British boarding parties were shouting their victory aboard the 'Nancy' when she blew up and tossed bodies forty to fifty feet in all directions. Meanwhile, on shore, several citizens mounted a gun from an American war vessel and exchanged fire with the British.

Records at the Continental Congress show that a Captain William Hollock of Cape May, was one of the first to receive "Letter of Marque" but his sloop was found unsafe and was awaiting repairs before going to sea.

During December of 1776 a Continental spy was order to Cape May to inform the maneuvers of the six British ship in Delaware Bay.

April 18, 1777, the ship "Surprise" was ordered down the Delaware to assist in the defense of the Delaware Capes and the 'Cape May Channel'. She and two other vessels, the "Fly" and the "Andrew Soris" were ordered to open the channel for American vessels and drive away the British craft blocking the passage way.

July 1777, four British vessels were sighted off Peck Beach and Cape May people built a breastwork but a northwest wind drove off the British convoy. This same day, a whale boat under command of Captain Thomas Sister, came into Corsons Inlet with a crew belonging to the brig "Stanley", who were captured and sent to Philadelphia as prisoners. Later on the Brigantine "Delight" with 12 guns and 29 hands went ashore on Peck's beach and the settlement citizens took possession of the vessel and sent the crew under guard to Philadelphia.

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