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Continental Navy
October 30th1775

The troubled growth

of an Infant Navy

The Birth date of the Continental navy is generally accepted as October 30th 1775, when the Continental Congress appointed a Naval Committee and authorized the creation of a fighting force. The situation throughout most of the war is more accurately reflected in the painting above. In 1776, a little more than a year after the decision to found the navy, three British frigates could cruise unscathed up the Hudson past New York, ignoring the fire from two American forts. The range of these cannons was much too short, and no patriot ship could stop this calm demonstration of the British superiority.

The Revolutionary navy never was able to reach the wartime strength its planners may have hoped for. In all, 13 frigates were built (the rest of the fleet, some 40 ships were converted merchantmen). Many of these were manned by resourceful men, some achieved glory even in adversity. The Randolph, off Barbados in 1778, effectively challenged a British ship twice her size and fought valiantly until a shot exploded her powder magazine killing 300 men.

Some individual colonies had navies too, primarily for local defense. The strongest American force at sea remained some 2000 privately owned men-of-war that captured 600 British ships and $18 million in supplies.

The Men who sailed the Sea

Under Construction

For More information contact:
Sam Maner


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