From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships

General Gates

General Gates, see Gates for biography.


(Brig: a. 18 g.)

General Gates, former British merchant brigantine Industrious Bee, was built in 1764 at Bristol, England, for operations by Clapman & Co., captured 29 August 1777 by Captain John Skimmer in Continental schooner Lee while bound from Gibraltar for Newfoundland; purchased 19 December by the Navy Board at Boston; fitted out with 18 guns; and renamed General Gates, Captain John Skimmer in command.

General Gates sailed from Marblehead 24 May 1778, joining privateer brigantine Hawk off Cape Ann to cruise on the Newfoundland Banks. After capture of ship Jenny, and brigantines Thomas and Nancy, the two ships parted company early in August. Thereafter General Gates captured schooner Polly. On 3 August 1778 she intercepted brigantine Montague under Captain Nelson, who defended his ship in an epic engagement of 5 hours. After expending her ammunition, Montague resorted to firing "every piece of iron of all kinds that could be rammed into the tube of the cannon," including jack knives, crowbars, and even the captain's speaking tube. A double-headed shot from General Gates crashed into Captain Nelson's cabin. Taking it up, Nelson fired it from one of his own guns. "This shot striking a swivel gun on the State's brig divided, and one part of it glancing instantly killed the active and brave Captain Skimmer." It was 2 more hours before Montage struck her colors and capitulated to General Gates with Lt. Dennis in command. General Gates returned to Boston Harbor with prizes Polly and Montague 31 August 1778.

General Gates departed Boston 14 November in company with Providence for Nova Scotian waters. She captured schooner Friendship off Casco 4 December and 2 days later, parted by a gale from Providence, subsequently cruised in West Indian waters. She captured schooner General Leslie off Bermuda in the first part of February 1779, then joined Hazard at Martinique. Together they captured brigs Active 16 March and Union the following day.

General Gates returned to Boston harbor 13 April 1779, so unseaworthy from battering gales that her crew, at times, had despaired of ever reaching port. She was ordered sold 2 June 1779. In August she was loaned by the Navy Board to the Deputy Commissary of Prisoners at Boston to convey prisoners to New York. On completion of this mission, she was sold.


Transcribed by Yves HUBERT (