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Abraham Whipple

Whipple, Abraham, 1733–1819, American Revolutionary naval officer, b. Providence, R.I. In 1759–60, as captain of the privateer Game Cock in the French and Indian Wars, he captured numerous prizes. Whipple commanded the party of Rhode Islanders that captured and burned the British revenue cutter Gaspee in Narragansett Bay in 1772, one of the most provocative instances of resistance to the British in the pre-Revolutionary period. At the beginning of the American Revolution he was made commodore of Rhode Island's small fleet and then became fourth-ranking captain in the Continental navy. With the Columbus in 1776 he fought the first sea fight of the war. In 1778, Whipple, commanding the Providence, evaded the British blockade of Narragansett Bay and carried important government dispatches to France. His most daring exploit occurred in 1779 when, as commander of several vessels, he encountered the large, well-protected British Jamaica fleet. Whipple, concealing the guns of his flagship, the Providence, hoisted the British flag and fell in with the fleet for several days. Each night he cut out one of the merchant ships, manned it from his own crew, and sent it to an American port. Eight of the 11 captured ships reached port, making this one of the richest hauls of the war. In 1780 he was charged with the naval defense of Charleston, S.C.; the city fell and Whipple was captured and held prisoner for the rest of the war.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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