November 20 This day during the Quasi-War

November 20, 1798 – USS Retaliation The first USS Retaliation was a French privateer captured and then served in the United States Navy during Quasi-War with France. The U.S. warship, Delaware, commanded by Capt. Stephen Decatur, Sr., captured a French privateer, La Croyable, off Great Egg Harbor Bay, New Jersey, on 7 July 1798. Before her capture, the schooner had been preying upon shipping off the Delaware Capes and had taken a British brigantine and a Philadelphia merchantman, Liberty. She had also boarded and robbed coaster Alexander Hamilton. The U.S. Navy purchased La Croyable on 30 July 1798, manned her at Philadelphia, renamed her Retaliation, and placed her under the command of Lt. William Bainbridge. Retaliation departed Norfolk on 28 October 1798 with Montezuma and Norfolk and cruised in the West Indies protecting American commerce during the Quasi-War with France. On 20 November, a pair of French frigates, Insurgente and Volontaire, overtook Retaliation while her consorts were away on a chase and forced Bainbridge to surrender the hopelessly out-gunned schooner. However, even as a prisoner, the American officer managed to serve his country. He saved Montezuma and Norfolk by convincing the senior French commander that those American warships were too powerful for his frigates and induced him to abandon the chase. Renamed Magicienne by the French, the schooner again came into American hands on 28 June 1799, when a broadside from Merrimack forced her to haul down her colors. She performed convoy duty in the Caribbean before returning to Philadelphia in August. Her crew was then discharged and the schooner was sold on 29 November 1799 to Thomas and Peter Mackie.


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