DESCRIPTION: Commodore Barry in Alliance meets the British Sibyl. "We fought them till our cannon brought the British ensign down." Alliance captures Sibyl and returns with their prize to Philadelphia.
AUTHOR: William Collins (1838-?)
EARLIEST DATE: 1948 (Ranson)
KEYWORDS: battle navy war
Mar 10, 1783 - John Barry on board Alliance defeats "Sybille" in the last battle of the Revolutionary war (source: _The Father of the American Navy_ by Richard M. Reilly in "The Journal of American History," 1907, quoted on Jeffrey C Weaver's New River Notes site)
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Ranson, p. 80, "Jack Barry" (1 text)
NOTES: Ranson: "In searching for the songs of the Wexford coast I was very anxious to find something in ballad form about the Tacumshane man who was the founder of the American Navy. [This ballad is] attributed to William Collins, the Irish-American poet." - BS
John Barry (1745-1803) did not actually found the American navy, though he was its senior officer when he died. (Not admiral, we note; the American navy did not have its first admiral until the Civil War.)
Born in Tacumshane, he moved to Philadelphia in 1760, and was given his first ship, the Lexington, in 1776. He commanded the Alliance from 1780-1782, though she did not make her first voyage under his command until 1781. Peace with Britain came in January 1783, but with communications so slow, neither Barry nor the commander of the 28-gun Sybil knew of it, and so fought their battle during peacetime. The battle is usually dated March 10, but I've seen a source dating in March 11.
The Alliance (36 guns), built in 1777, was initially named Hancock but renamed when the French allied with the American revolutionaries. Her early career was not distinguished; Captain Pierre Landais seemed to have more interest in attacking his commander John Paul Jones than in fighting the British (at one point, he is thought to have deliberately rammed the Bonhomme Richard). He was eventually relieved, commandeered what had been his own ship, and was imprisoned by his crew.
Alliance itself was paid off in 1785, the last ship in the American navy at the time. When the navy was revived a few years later, Barry became the commander of its first major ship, the United States. - RBW
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.