On 6 February 1778, France--encouraged by the American victory in the Battle of Saratoga--abandoned its long-standing policy of providing only covert aid to the cause of American patriots fighting for independence and openly joined American commissioners in Paris signing a formal treaty of alliance. Following her entry into the war as an active participant, French assistance in logistical military, naval and diplomatic matters was invaluable to the American cause.
(Frigate; tonnage 900; length 151'; beam 36'; depth of hull 12'6"; speed 13 knots; complement 300; armament 28 12-pounder smooth bore, 8 9-pounder smooth bore)
The first Alliance -- a 36-gun frigate originally named Hancock--was laid down in 1777 on the Merrimack River at Salisbury, Mass., by the partners and cousins, William and James K. Hackett; launched on 28 April 1778; and renamed Alliance on 29 May 1778 by resolution of the Continental Congress. Her first commanding officer was Capt. Pierre Landais, a former officer of the French Navy who had come to the New World hoping to become a naval counterpart of Lafayette. The frigate's first captain was widely accepted as such in America. Massachusetts made him an honorary citizen and the Continental Congress gave him command of Alliance, the finest warship built to that date on the western side of the Atlantic.
The handsome new frigate's first assignment was the task of carrying Lafayette back to France to petition the French Court for increased support in the American struggle for independence. Manned by a crew composed largely of Britishers and Irishmen, Alliance departed Boston on 14 January 1779 bound for Brest, France. During the crossing, a plot to seize the ship -- involving 38 members of the crew -- was uncovered on 2 February before the mutiny could begin. The disloyal sailors were put in irons and the remainder of the voyage, in which the frigate captured two prizes, was peaceful. The ship reached Brest safely on the 6th.
After the marquis and his suite had disembarked, Benjamin Franklin, one of the American commissioners in Paris, ordered her to remain in France despite the fact that Landais' original instructions had called for him to load the frigate with munitions and then to sail promptly for America. Instead, Franklin assigned the frigate to a squadron to be commanded by Capt. John Paul Jones.
The squadron departed Groix Roads, near L'Orient, France, on 19 June to escort a convoy of merchantmen to Bordeaux and other French ports. During a storm that night, Alliance collided with Jones' flagship Bonhomme Richard, damaging the rigging of both vessels. Nevertheless, each was able to continue; and the squadron successfully completed its mission before returning to L'Orient where the two injured warships were repaired.
The French planned an invasion of southern England that summer, and asked Jones to carry out a diversionary raid in the northern British Isles. His flotilla sortied from Groix Roads on 14 August and headed for the southwestern corner of Ireland to begin a clockwise circumnavigation of the British Isles.
Not many days passed before Landais -- who in Jones' opinion had been the real culprit in the collision two months before -- began to show his disinclination toward obeying orders. On the 23d, he was enraged when the commodore refused to allow him to chase a ship into shallow and unknown waters "... when there was not sufficient wind to govern a ship." The next day, Jones later reported, Alliance's unruly captain came on board the flagship and addressed the commodore "... in the most gross and insulting terms." From that point on, Landais seemed to ignore orders entirely and operated Alliance according to his own whims.
Thus, the only really American warship in Jones' squadron belied her name by refusing to cooperate with the French vessels. She left her consorts during a squall on the night of 26 and 27 August and did not rejoin the squadron until 1 September. Betsy, a letter-of-marque ship she had just taken, then accompanied the frigate. About this time, Bonhomme Richard captured a similar ship named Union off Cape Wrath at the north western corner of Scotland; and Jones allowed Landais to man both vessels. The latter again showed his complete contempt for the commodore by sending the prizes to Bergan, Norway, where the Danish Government turned the ships over to the British consul, depriving their captors of the satisfaction of having hurt the enemy and of any hope of being rewarded for their efforts.
In the next few days, Alliance took two more small ships prompting Jones to signal Landais to board Bonhomme Richard for a conference. The American frigate commander refused to obey, but instead again sailed off on his own.
For more than two weeks thereafter, Alliance worked her way south independently along the eastern shore of Great Britain while the remainder of the squadron followed a similar course out of sight. A bit before midnight on 22 September, a lookout in Bonhomme Richard reported seeing two ships. Jones hoisted recognition signals which were unanswered. Landais was continuing to ignore the flagship's efforts to communicate. Nevertheless, at dawn, Jones was able to recognize Alliance and Palace, a frigate of his squadron, which had recently parted from the flagship with the commodore's permission to hunt prizes.
About mid afternoon on 23 September, the flagship sighted a large number of ships approaching form the north-northeast. The oncoming vessels were part of a convoy of British merchantmen which had sailed form the Baltic Sea under the escort of the 44-gun frigate HMS Serapis and the 20-gun sloop of war HMS Countess of Scarborough. When the English vessels realized that strange warships were bearing down on them, the merchant ships turned shoreward while their two escorts headed toward the American force challenging it to battle.
Jones signaled his ships to form a line of battle, but Landais ignored the order and remained aloof from the action. During most of the ensuing four-hour battle off the chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head on England's Yorkshire coast, Alliance kept her distance from the action which lasted well into the night. Some two hours after the first guns were fired Alliance entered the fray. When he saw her approach, Jones happily "thought the battle was at an end...." But to his "...utter astonishment," Landais' ship "...discharged a broadside full into the stern of the Bonhomme Richard." Jones and his crew "... called to him [Landais] for God's sake to forbear firing into the Bonhomme Richard, yet he passed along off the side of the ship and continued firing." However, Capt. Richard Pearson, who commanded Serapis, reported that Alliance was also firing into his ship. Thus, it appears that Landais was indiscriminately attacking both combatants.
Ignoring incredible damage to hull and rigging, as well as appalling loss of life, limb, and blood, each side continued to fight with unflagging determination and unshaken valor. Then, when it seemed that neither ship could remain much longer afloat, Serapis finally struck her colors.
Following the surrender, Alliance stood by during a desperate struggle to save the shattered, burning, leaking hulks. On the evening of the day after the battle, Jones realized that, while his flagship was doomed, her conquered opponent would probably survive. He, therefore, transferred his crew form Bonhomme Richard to Serapis and, the next morning, sadly watched the former sink.
By 29 September, untiring labor had enabled Serapis to get underway, and the squadron headed for the coast of Holland. Alliance sighted land on the evening of 2 October and, the following morning, she anchored at Texel Roads, Amsterdam's deep-water harbor, with the rest of the squadron.
When work of the battle reached London, the admiralty ordered its nearby men-of-war to search for Jones' flotilla: but the Royal Navy proceeded to look in all of the wrong places. By the time a merchantman informed London that Jones was at Texel Roads, the victorious Allies and their prizes had been safe at anchor there for a week. The Royal Navy then setup a tight blockade off the Dutch port to check any seaward movement that the Allied squadron might attempt. Meanwhile, the British ambassador -- hoping to win for his country by diplomacy the victory and vindication it had been denied in ordeal by combat -- pressed the Government of the Dutch Republic to return both Serapis and Countess of Scarborough to England. Failing that, he demanded that Jones' squadron be expelled from Texel and thus forced into the jaws of the Royal Navy's blockading squadron.
Indeed, on 12 November, the Netherlands Navy had moved a squadron of line-of-battleships to Texel; and its commanding officer had ordered Jones to sail with the first favorable wind. Nevertheless, the adroit commodore managed to stall his departure for over six weeks. By that time, he had managed to restore Alliance to top trim and to ready her for sea. Since the other ships in his squadron had by this time, for complex diplomatic and legalistic reasons, shifted to flying French colors, Jones decided to leave them behind when he left Holland in Alliance. He had long since relieved Landais in command of that frigate.
On the morning of 27 December, after foul weather had forced the British Blockaders off their stations, an easterly wind sprang up and enabled Alliance to stand out to sea. She dropped the pilot an hour before noon and headed southwest along the Netherlands coast. Less than a day later, the frigate transited Dover Straight and entered the English Channel. On the night of 31 December, she was off Ushant, an island off the westernmost tip of Brittany , when 1779 gave way to 1780. For a bit over a fortnight thereafter, she cruised to the south looking for British shipping; but with the exception of one small English brig which she took, the ship encountered only friendly or neutral vessels. On 16 January 1780, Jones decided to visit Corunna, Spain, for provisions and maintenance which entailed shortening the frigate's main yard and scraping her bottom.
On the 27th, she got underway in company with the French frigate Le Sensible. Want of winter clothing then prevented Jones from beginning an extended cruise in quest of prizes; and instead, the ship struggled across the Bay of Biscay against head wind along a roughly northeasterly course toward L'Orient. En route, she recaptured a wine-laden French barque -- a prize which had been taken by an English privateer -- and saved the foundering vessel's cargo before the barque sank. She also chanced upon Livingston and escorted that tobacco-laden American merchantmen to the French coast.
Alliance anchored in Groix Roads on 10 February and moved into L'Orient harbor on the 19th. That day, Benjamin Franklin suggested that Jones take on a cargo of arms and uniform cloth for the American Army and promptly get underway for home.
Jones agreed with Franklin's suggestion, but was kept in France for many months thereafter, attending to military, diplomatic, and social matters which he felt to be important to his country, to his crew, and to himself. Most of this time, he was away from his ship in Paris.
Meanwhile, the deposed Landais had arrived at L'Orient seeking passage to America where he hope to be vindicated in a trial by court-martial. There, he met Arthur Lee, a disaffected fellow commissioner of Franklin, who also wanted to return home. Lee -- who also hated Jones -- persuaded Alliance's former captain that neither Jones nor Franklin had had the authority to relieve him of command since Landais had held a Continental commission. Convinced that he had been wronged, Landais went on board the frigate and assumed command on 12 or 13 June.
Jones arrived at L'Orient, where he heard of the coup. He journeyed to Paris and obtained support from Franklin and M. de Sartine, the French Minister of Marine. When Jones returned to L'Orient on 20 June, he found that Alliance had already weighed anchor and moved to Port Louis, where a recently emplaced boom blocked her path. The batteries that guarded the port, as well as three French warships, had received orders to fire on the frigate it she attempted to stand out to sea.
Surprisingly, Jones then interceded with the French authorities asking them to allow the ship to pass. He justified this action as springing from a desire to avoid wasting lives, losing the fine frigate, and straining Franco-American friendship by having French forces attack an American warship.
It must be noted that the hero of Flamborough may have been rationalizing to conceal less lofty motives. Samuel Eliot Morison strongly endorsed this hypothesis: "The conclusion is inescapable, that Jones was not particularly eager to regain command of Alliance. He had to pretend that he was, of course; but actually he felt well rid of her, and of Landais too."
Alliance was allowed to leave France unmolested. Her homeward voyage proved to be anything but routine. Landais quarreled with his officers, abused his men, and made life miserable for his passengers. The ship had hardly lost sight of land when he locked up Capt. Matthew Parke because the commanding officer of the embarked Marine Corps contingent refused to swear unconditional obedience under all possible circumstances. Any seamen who had joined the frigate after Bonhomme Richard had sunk were suspected of disloyalty; many were shackled and imprisoned in the ship's rat-infested hold. Even Arthur Lee, who had urged the Frenchman to take command, came close to being stabbed with a carving knife for taking the first slice of roast pig at dinner. In operating and navigating the ship Landais gave orders which violated the rules of safe and sensible seamanship.
The fearful and exasperated officers and passengers finally agreed that the commanding officer must be insane, and they forcibly relieved him of command on 11 August. Alliance continued on to America in a happier and more orderly fashion under the command of Lt. James A. Degge. She arrived at Boston on 19 August 1780.
The Navy Board at that port promptly gathered information on the events of the voyage and sent a hasty report to Philadelphia where the Board of Admiralty immediately ordered a thorough investigation of the whole affair. At the same time it appointed Capt. John Barry to take command of the ship and make her ready for sea with great dispatch.
Barry arrived at Boston on 19 September with orders stripping Landais of all claim to command of the frigate. That unfortunate officer had shut himself up in the captain's cabin and refused to leave, and he was now forcibly carried off the ship by a party of marines led by his first adversary of the voyage, Capt. Parke. Trials of Landais and Degge resulted in the ousting of both men from the service.
Meanwhile, efforts to restore Alliance to fighting trim progressed slowly -- when they moved at all -- because of a dearth of both men and money. Funds for the necessary yard work and for provisioning and manning the ship were slow in reaching Boston until Col. John Laurens -- a former aide-de-camp to General Washington, a successful battlefield commander, and an exchanged prisoner of war -- appeared there on 25 January 1781. Congress had appointed Laurens as its envoy extraordinary to France because his military experience seemed to fit him to become a convincing spokesman for Washington's needy army. It had also selected Alliance as the speediest and safest ship to carry the dashing young officer to Europe. The urgency of Alliance's new mission made the funds and crew available so that the ship was ready to sail by the end of the first week of February. A favorable wind came up on the 11th enabling her to depart Nantasket Roads and stand out to sea.
Five days later, she entered crowded ice fields and suffered "considerable damage" as she forced her way through. Her crew contained many British sailors, a group of whom plotted to take over the frigate and to kill all her officers but one who would be spared to navigate the vessel to an English port. However, Barry took careful precautions to prevent the mutiny from erupting.
While she sailed eastward Barry refused to pursue any shipping which would delay his progress. Yet, on 4 March, the frigate encountered a ship and a schooner. One shot brought both vessels to. The schooner proved to be the English privateer Alert and her consort was Buono Campagnia, a prize which the Britisher had recently taken. Barry took Alert as a prize, but released the merchantman. Five days later, on 9 March, the frigate anchored in Groix Roads and disembarked her important passenger and his three companions: Thomas Paine, whose writings had exerted great influence in persuading the colonies to seek independence, Major William Jackson, a Continental Army officer from South Carolina, and the Viscount de Noailles, a cousin of Lafayette.
After almost three weeks in port, Alliance headed home on the afternoon of 29 March, escorting Marquis De Lafayette, an old, French East Indiaman which an American agent had chartered to carry a valuable cargo of arms and uniforms for the Continental Army. Before the month was out, Barry discovered and investigated a mutiny plot and punished the conspirators.
At dawn on 2 April a lookout sighted two ships to the northwest; Barry headed toward the strangers and ordered the Indiaman to follow. Undaunted, the distant vessels -- which proved to be two British brigs -- continued to approach the little American convoy and fired a broadside at the frigate as they passed abreast. Two answering salvoes from Alliance robbed the larger English vessel of her rigging and forced her to strike her colors. Barry ordered Marquis De Lafayette to attend to the captured foe while he pursued and took the second brig. The first prize, a new and fast privateer from Guernsey named Mars though badly damaged, was repaired and sent to Philadelphia under an American crew. Marquis De Lafayette provided the prize crew for the smaller vessel, a Jersey privateer named Minerva. Barry ordered the prizemaster of this vessel to head for Philadelphia but Marquis De Lafayette's captain had secretly ordered him to head for France if he had a chance to slip away. On the night of 17 April, foul weather separated Mars from the convoy. Nevertheless, that prize dutifully continued on toward the Delaware capes. Minerva slipped away during the next night and apparently set course for the Bay of Biscay. Marquis De Lafayette dropped out of sight during a fierce storm on the night of the 25th.
After spending two days looking for her lost charge, Alliance continued on toward America alone. On 2 May, she took two sugar-laden Jamaicamen. Off Newfoundland Banks later that day, the frigate sighted, but escaped the attention of a large convoy from Jamaica and its Royal Navy escorts. Ironically, a few days before, the missing Marquis De Lafayette and her treacherous master had fallen prey to this same British force.
Almost continuous bad weather plagued Barry's little force in the days that followed until Alliance permanently lost sight of her two prizes on 12 May. During a tempest on the 17th, lightning shattered the frigate's main topmast and carried away her main yard while damaging her foremast and injuring almost a score of men.
Jury-rigged repairs had been completed when Barry observed two vessels approaching him from windward 10 days later but his ship was still far from her best fighting trim. The two strangers kept pace with Alliance roughly a league off her starboard beam. At first dawn, they hoisted British colors and prepared for battle. Although all three ships were almost completely becalmed, the American drifted within hailing distance of the larger vessel about an hour before noon; Barry learned that she was the sloop of war Atalanta. Her smaller consort proved to be Trepassey, also a sloop of war. The American captain then identified his own vessel and invited Atalanta's commanding officer surrender. A few moments later, Barry opened the inevitable battle with a broadside. The sloops immediately pulled out of field of fire of the frigate's broadsides and took positions astern of their foe where their guns could pound her with near impunity In the motionless air, Alliance -- too large to be propelled sweeps -- was powerless to maneuver.
A grape shot hit Barry's left shoulder, seriously wounding him, but he continued to direct the fighting until loss of blood almost robbed him of consciousness. Capt. Hoystead Hacker, the frigate's executive officer, took command as Barry was carried to the cockpit for treatment. Hacker fought the ship with valor and determination until her inability to maneuver out of her relatively defenseless position prompted him to seek Barry's permission to surrender. Indignantly, the wounded captain refused to allow this and asked to be brought back on deck to resume command.
Inspired by Barry's zeal, Hacker returned to the fray. Just then a wind sprang up and restored the battered frigate's steerage way, enabling her to bring her battery back into action. Two devastating broadsides knocked Trepassey out of the fight. Another broadside forced Atalanta to strike, ending the bloody affair. The next day, while carpenters labored to repair all three ships, Barry transferred all of his prisoners to Trepassey which -- as a cartel ship -- would carry them to St. John' s, Newfoundland, to be exchanged for American prisoners.
Temporary repairs to Atalanta ended on the last day of May, and the prize got underway for Boston. After more patching of her battered hull and rigging, Alliance set out the next day and reached Boston on 6 June. While Barry recuperated, her repairs were again delayed by want of funds. Lord Cornwallis surrendered his army at Yorktown, ending the war's last major action on land, well before she was ready for sea. As had happened before, her restoration to service was hastened by decision to use the frigate to carry an important person to France. Lafayette -- who had completed his work in America with a major role in the Yorktown campaign -- arrived in Boston on 10 December 1781, wanting to return home. Even with the aid of the Marquis' great influence, a full fortnight passed before she could put to sea on Christmas Eve 1781. The ship arrived off L'Orient on 17 January 1782 and disembarked Lafayette and his party.
Barry wanted to make a cruise in European waters to capture British shipping which would yield crewmen to be used in freeing American prisoners by exchange. Alliance got underway on February and headed for the Bay of Biscay. Accompanying her out was the American letter-of-marque brig Antonio which was bound for home. Three days later, she chased and overhauled an American brigantine which jettisoned her guns in an effort to escape. Antonio's commander offered to escort the unfortunate, and now defenseless, merchantman to Philadelphia and they parted from Barry the next day. Alliance encountered only friendly and neutral shipping before putting in at L'Orient on 26 February.
Barry remained in port more than two weeks awaiting dispatches from Paris containing Franklin's observations on the diplomatic scene and on prospects for England's recognition of American independence and negotiations for peace. The messages arrived on 15 March, and the following day Alliance headed home.
Wretched weather and contrary winds plagued the ship for much of the voyage. The almost incessant northerly blasts forced her south into hot, unhealthful climes. Eight men died before the end of April when she managed to turn north with the trade winds and head for the Delaware River.
The frigate reached Cape Henlopen on 10 May, but found it guarded by a Royal Navy ship of the line which -- in company with a tender -- gave chase. Fleeing south and eluding her pursuers, Alliance turned north around Montauk Point and across Long Island Sound to New London, Conn., where she arrived on 13 May.
Although hopeful of soon beginning another cruise, Barry again was frustrated by the inevitable shortages of men, money, and material. Almost three months passed before Alliance was finally ready for sea. She reentered Long Island Sound on 4 August and almost immediately took Adventure, a Rhode Island brigantine which had fallen prey to an English privateer. Barry sent the prize back to New London and unsuccessfully sought her captor. On the 10th, while sailing toward Bermuda, the frigate captured the schooner Polly and sent her to Boston. On the 25th, she retook Fortune, a Connecticut sloop which the British privateer Hawk had seized on the 16th.
At the end of August, Barry headed north in quest of stragglers from a convoy which had sailed from Jamaica a bit over a month before. A week later he made a prize of Somerset, a Nantucket whaler that had been sailing under a British pass.
On 18 September Alliance captured a damaged British brig and learned that a storm had scattered the Jamaica convoy sinking or crippling both escorts and merchantmen. Making temporary repairs to this prize, Barry sent her to Boston and then began looking for the Jamaicamen. On the 24th he captured Britannia and Anna, carrying coffee, logwood, sugar, and rum. On the 27th the snow Commerce became his prize. The next day he captured the dismasted Kingston.
Though he would have preferred to take his prizes home Barry was now closer to Europe. Prevailing westerly winds clinched the matter, prompting him to head for France. The eastward passage was slow and stormy, but the convoy reached Groix Roads on 17 October.
Alliance got underway again on 9 December 1782 for the West Indies. At the end of a largely uneventful passage, she anchored off Saint-Pierre, Martinique, on 8 January 1783. There Barry found orders to sail to Havana to pick up a large quantity of gold and to deliver it to Congress at Philadelphia. After brief repairs, Alliance resumed her voyage on the 13th, touched at St. Eustatius and Cape Francois, and reached Havana on the last day of January.
However, another American warship, Duc De Lauzun, was already in port on the same mission. The specie had already been loaded on that ship, and Barry decided to escort her home. The inevitable delays kept both ships in port until 6 March. The next day, they encountered two Royal Navy frigates which gave chase. Barry chose not to fight these warships rather than risk losing the funds his consort carried, and the American vessels successfully eluded their pursuers. Three days later they encountered the same pair -- Alarm and Sybil -- in company with sloop-of-war Tobago.
Still striving to avoid risk to the desperately needed money he was carrying to Congress, Barry again headed southwest to escape from these unidentified strangers and ordered her consort to follow. Far off in that direction, the rigging of another ship appeared over the horizon, sailing away from the others.
Soon Alliance was noticeably pulling away from the pursuers but Duc De Lauzun- second in line -- was losing ground to Alarm. In the distance, the newcomer was seen to change course and head toward Alliance. Alarm evidently gave up the chase and headed away. Sybil pressed on and soon began firing at Duc De Lauzun.
Confident in both Alliance's speed and her fight, Barry maneuvered her between Sybil and Duc De Lauzun to demand the full attention of the former so that the latter might slip away to safety. Sybil then turned her fire toward Alliance and managed to send one shot from her bow chaser into the American frigate's cabin, mortally wounding a junior officer and scattering many splinters. Yet, Barry held Alliance's fire until she was within a stone's throw of her opponent. At that point, a broadside from the American warship opened some 40 minutes of close-in fighting which finally forced Sybil to flee in the wake of Alarm and Tobago.
Meanwhile, the Treaty of Paris which ended the war and recognized the independence of the United States had been ratified on 3 February 1783 some five weeks before the battle in which she fired the last shot of the American Revolution.
The two American ships again headed home on the day following their brush with the Britishers, 11 March, but separated off Cape Hatteras a week later. On the 19th, Alliance met a British ship of the line as she headed in toward the Delaware capes. She gave chase and forced Alliance back out to sea. This created a diversion which allowed Duc De Lauzun to slip into the Delaware unmolested and ascend the river to Philadelphia.
Alliance continued on northward and arrived at Newport R.I., at midafternoon on 20 March 1783. Since that port could easily be raided by British men-of-war, she soon proceeded up Narragansett Bay and anchored just below Providence. There, her crew was reduced to peacetime needs, and she was thoroughly overhauled.
Ordered to proceed to Chesapeake Bay to take on a cargo of tobacco for shipment to Europe, the frigate got underway on 20 June, but, headed for sea, she struck a rock and was stranded until high tide. Upon floating free, Alliance still seemed to be tight and resumed her voyage via the Virginia capes and the lower Chesapeake Bay to the Rappahannock. She then moved up that river where she began taking on tobacco. When completely loaded, she headed downstream on 21 August and sailed into the Atlantic three days later.
Soon after the ship entered the open sea, water rose rapidly in her hold. A hasty investigation revealed that a leak had developed where she had struck the rock weeks before. The crew's attempts to steam the influx failed, forcing Barry to head for the Delaware.
Further examination of the ship at Philadelphia ruled out any quick remedy and caused Congress to cancel the voyage. Her tobacco was transferred to other ships and her crew was further reduced to the bare minimum necessary to keep her in reasonably satisfactory condition.
When the survey board reported that the necessary repairs would be quite expensive, no funds were available for the task. It seems that the work was never done before Alliance -- the last ship in the Continental Navy -- was sold in Philadelphia on 1 August 1785 to John Coburn and a partner named Whitehead. These gentlemen subsequently sold her to Robert Morris who converted the vessel to an East Indiaman. Her new owner -- who, as the guiding spirit on naval matters in the Continental Congress and that body's Agent of Marine in the later years of the American struggle for independence, had directed her operations -- selected Thomas Read as her master during her first merchant service. That former captain in the Continental Navy took her to China by a new route through the Dutch East Indies and the Solomon Islands. She departed Philadelphia in June 1787 and arrived at Canton on 22 December of that year. While passing through the Carolinas on the outward voyage Read found two islands which were not on his chart and named the first -- probably Ponape -- Morris; and the second, Alliance. At Canton he loaded the ship with tea which he delivered back at Philadelphia on 17 September 1788, ending a record voyage.
Apparently, no details of Alliance's subsequent career have survived. However, when she was no longer seaworthy, the former frigate was abandoned on the shore of Petty Island across the Delaware from Philadelphia. At low tide, some of her timbers could be seen in the sands there until her remaining hulk was destroyed during dredging operations in 1901.
(Screw Gunboat: displacement 1,375; length between perpendiculars 185'0"; beam 35'0"; draft 16'4"; speed 11 knots; complement 190; armament 1 11', 4 9", 1 60 pounder ; class Adams)
The second Alliance was laid down as Huron -- a screw gunboat of the third rate -- in 1873 at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and launched on 8 March 1875. She was sponsored by Miss Eulalie Boush, whose father, Naval Constructor George R. Boush, was superintending the warship's construction. However prior to the time when Huron was to join the active fleet; she was renamed Alliance -- to honor the Revolutionary War frigate. Ultimately, Alliance was commissioned on 18 January 1877, Comdr. Theodore F. Kane in command.
Fitting out at Norfolk until mid-February 1877, Alliance shifted thence to Hampton Roads, and remained in the Tidewater area until 9 March, when she sailed to join the European Squadron which at the time, was commanded by Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden, best know for his role in the engagement between Monitor and CSS Virginia during the Civil War. For the next two years, Alliance would be a part of this squadron, into whose hands had been entrusted the mission of protecting American lives and property like the Sixth Fleet of today. Alliance based at Villefranche, France, where the United States government maintained a "depot," with the permission of the French government.
Occasional outbreaks of armed conflict in the lands which bordered on the Mediterranean Sea gave the ships of the European Squadron ample opportunities to stand ready to protect American lives and property. The Russo-Turkish War, begun by the Russians (champions of Pan-Slavism) -- in response to Turkish oppression in territory bordering hers, in the spring of 1877, affected the Alliance's itinerary within a few months of her arrival on the station. Her orders dated 20 August 1877, clearly stated her reason for being there: "Upon arrival at Constantinople," they began "you will inform the minister (the United States minister to Turkey) that you are ordered there for a time in consequence of the disturbed condition of affairs thereabouts, and that your ship may afford assistance and asylum in case of disorders threatening the safety of the Representatives or citizens of the United States." Enjoining Alliance's captain to observe "strict neutrality" Admiral Worden gave him the latitude to act at his own discretion in actions which required "energy as well as prudence..."
The following day, however, Alliance's orders were changed -- the ship being directed to Salonika, on the Greek coast, and thence to Smyrna. Within a month, the success of the Turks -- delaying the Russian offensives that summer by their gallant defense of the city of Plevna -- had lessened concern for the lives of foreigners.
On 25 August, Alliance sailed from Smyrna for Salonika in company with Rear Admiral Worden's flagship, Trenton, and reached that port five days later. She returned to Smyrna, and then again visited Constantinople, where she remained into December. She sailed thence back to Smyra, the new year 1878 finding her in that port. Having spent eight months in the eastern Mediterranean, Alliance sailed for Villefranche in early January 1878, but returned to Smyrna on 24 February, bringing with her quantities of stores to be distributed among the ships of the squadron.
Once more back in the eastern Mediterranean, Alliance became flagship for Rear Admiral William E. Le Roy (who had relieved Worden as commander of the European Squadron), in early March, the admiral transferring his flag form Trenton. Alliance then sailed for Piraeus, Greece -- the port for Athens -- but violent gales compelled her to seek anchorage in Vourlah Bay for 36 hours before she proceeded to sea again on the morning of the 7th. Heavy gales again slowed the ship's passage, but the gunboat reached her destination on the 8th.
A few hours after Alliance's arrival, Vandalia arrived at the Piraeus bearing the former chief executive, General Ulysses S. Grant, on his world tour. During ex-president Grant's stay, Alliance rendered honors to him on 13 March. less then two weeks later, while she lay at the Piraeus, the ship received the King and Queen of Greece, who, after inspecting the flagship "remained a considerable time on board" Alliance, their departure "honored with the usual ceremonies as upon their arrival on 26 March.
Sailing from Havre on 6 august, Alliance reached Cherbourg, France, on the 7th, and remained there for a day, before pushing on for Gibraltar on the 9th. She proceeded thence to Villefranche, arriving there on the 19th. After returning to the eastern Mediterranean, visiting Leghorn, Italy, between 20 and 27 September, she sailed on a cruise "in eastern waters, making Smyrna her headquarters." Alliance later visited Messina, Italy and Volo, Turkey; after finding affairs there (at Volo) quiet," the gunboat sailed for Smyra, arriving there on 11 October. Alliance remained there into December.
During 1879, Alliance carried out much the same routine as in her previous time with the European Squadron, ultimately returning home to the United States late in the year. Reaching Boston on 8 December 1879, Alliance sailed for Norfolk the following day, arriving there on the 14th. For the next five months, the ship lay under repairs at Norfolk, before she received orders at the end of April, 1880, to proceed to the Newfoundland Banks, to "search for and establish positions (if found) of rocks and shoals" reported by shipping in that area.
After compensating her compasses in Lunnhaven Roads, Alliance sailed on 29 May 1880. She reached St. Pierre, a sparsely populated rocky isle off the south coast of Newfoundland, on 11 June, after a 12-day passage from Hampton Roads. She remained there for ten days, investigated the bands, and then divided a fortnight between St. John's. Newfoundland, and Halifax.
Proceeding thence to Portsmouth, (N.H.) Navy Yard, and arriving there on 29 August, Alliance underwent repairs, to her engines during the month of September. She then dropped down the eastern seaboard to Hampton Roads, making arrival on 4 October. The gunboat then sailed south, visiting Savannah, Ga., from 20 to 28 November. Taking on coal at Port Royal, S.C., Alliance then touched at Key West, Fla., again topping off her bunkers, before she set course for Mexican waters. Over succeeding weeks, Alliance visited the ports of Veracruz, Tuxpan, and Tampico, working her way along the eastern coast of Mexico, her sailing orders having directed her commanding officer to keep himself informed "regarding the commercial interests of the United Stated at the ports visited and render all assistance demanded by the interests of the United Stated to her citizens and commerce."
Reaching the Pensacola (Fla.) Navy Yard three days into the new year 1881, Alliance then visited the Cuban ports of Matanzas, Cardenas and Havana before calling at Key West on 4 and 5 February. The gunboat then sailed for the Mississippi River, and visited New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Natchez over the succeeding weeks. During the ship's visit to New Orleans, a boy named John A. Lejeune visited her. He saw Alliance's marine officer, Captain of Marines George F. Elliot (a future commandant of the Corps), resplendent in his dress uniform, and impressed by the sight, resolved to become a marine. He did, and eventually became Commandant himself.
Alliance returned to Hampton Roads via Key West, and arrived there on 16 April. Later that same day, she proceeded up the Potomac River and anchored off Alexandria, VA., where, on 25 April, officers and men from the ship participated in the ceremonies attendant to the unveiling of a statue memorializing the accomplishment of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. Upon completion of her participation in theses festivities, Alliance returned to Hampton Roads.
While Alliance had been operating in the Gulf of Mexico, a board had met in Washington to discuss and expedition to ascertain the whereabouts of the ship Jeannette, that had not been heard from in some time while on an exploration cruise to the Arctic. An act of Congress approved on 3 March 1881 provided for, among other "sundry civil expenses of the government" the charting, equipping, and supplying a vessel "for the prosecution of a search for the steamer Jeannette, of the Arctic exploring expedition." One suitable ship Mary and Helen, a steam whaler, was taken over and refitted at the Mare Island Navy Yard; renamed Rodgers, she sailed from San Francisco on 16 June.
The Navy, having determined to send a naval vessel "to search for the missing ship between Greenland, Iceland, and the coast of Norway and Spitzbergen..." chose Alliance for the mission and ordered her to Norfolk Navy Yard to be fitted out for the task at hand. There, the gunboat underwent the necessary alterations to equip her for what lay ahead in the inhospitable northern regions. Her bow was sheathed with live oak, and a strong iron guard fitted to her stem to protect it against drift ice. In addition, she took on board extra provisions, and "warm winter-service clothing" for officers and men. Ultimately, with full instructions having been given and sailing directions furnished, Alliance, Comdr. George H. Wadleigh in command, departed Hampton Roads on 16 June.
After an eight-day passage, Alliance reached St. John's Newfoundland. She sailed thence for Reykjavik, Iceland, and reached that port on 9 July. There, Comdr. Wadleigh distributed Icelandic-language descriptions of the missing Jeannette and offered a reward to anyone producing "reliable information" regarding the ship they were seeking. Alliance then proceeded to Hammerfest, Norway, via Seidisfjord.
On 29 July, Alliance got underway once more on her search. proceeding to Bel Osuld and Green Harbor, Spitzbergen, thence heading north and east. With pack ice barring her way, Alliance then followed the edge of the ice for a time and succeeded in penetrating the floes to a point ten miles northwest of Welcome Point. To mark her northern voyage, Alliance left behind a copper plate, marked with her name, spiked to a boulder in the middle of a small bight, west of Hakluyt's Headland, Amsterdam Island, as well as a copper plate spiked to a nearby cliff to commemorate the ship's visit to that region.
Alliance pressed onward in late August, departing Spitzbergen on the 27th, and cruised under sail until 11 September, when she returned to Hammerfest. Clearing that port five days later. the ship returned to Spitzbergen in an attempt to push further north. Forced to abandon the effort later in the month, Alliance departed Spitzbergen on 25 September. She reached Reykjavik on 10 October, Halifax on 1 November, and New York on the 11th her northern voyage at an end.
Near land or ice, Alliance had kept watch for "anything promising to throw light on the object of the cruise," and communicated with fishing vessels, furnishing all with a description of the missing Jeannette. While Alliance had not met with success, the cruise had not been for naught. At the outset, the Navy Department had reminder Comdr. Wadleigh that Alliance was "fitted for Arctic exportations" but nevertheless instructed him to "make such observations as opportunity permitted for the benefit of navigators and in aid of science." Although she had not located Jeannette, Alliance had obtained samples of the bottom of the waters they traversed; made floral and geological collections, as well as brought on board samples of birds and animals that populated the region. The future Marine Corps. commandant, Capt. Elliott, was specifically commended for hos part in bagging species of fauna of the area. The hydrographic data on the coasts and water of Iceland, which Alliance's men collected, proved important.
From New York, Alliance proceeded to Boston, where the ship underwent voyage repairs into 1882. Attached to the North Atlantic Station, Alliance departed Boston on 9 February, and reached Norfolk on the 13th. For the first few months of 1882, the ship cruised in the West Indies, visiting St. Lucia; Samana Bay; Kingston, Jamaica; Aspinwall; Veracruz; and Key West before she returned to Hampton Roads at the end of the year. For the remainder of 1882 , the ships of the North Atlantic Station operated in company, "for the instruction of officers and men in fleet tactics." They operated off the Virginia capes from 10 to 30 May, after which time they cruised in company off the eastern seaboard, visiting New York City, Provincetown, Boston, Mount Desert Island, Bangor, Yonkers and Philadelphia, returning to Hampton Roads at the end of October. While at Philadelphia, the ships participated in the bicentennial celebration of the association of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Alliance returned to the West Indies later that winter, in January and February of 1883, before she put into New Orleans on 16 March. At the end of the month, she proceeded to the Pensacola Navy Yard to coal, sailing thence for the Gulf of Mexico. After surveying the waters of Tampico, Mexico, Alliance returned to Hampton Roads -- via Key West -- and remained in Norfolk until 2 July.
Her respite in port proved brief, however, for she was under way again on 3 July, for New York, reaching her destination on the 5th. The following day she put to sea to commence that summer's cruise off the Grand Banks, and remained thus employed into the early autumn, returning to New York on 14 October. Shifting up the Hudson River to Newburgh, N.Y., Alliance took her part in that city's centennial celebration on 18 October. She then resumed active operations, destroying a wreck off Shinnecock Light, on the south shore of Long Island, and then visited Boston before she headed for the West Indies.
Troubled condition in revolution-plagued Haiti had promoted the dispatch of naval forces to that area to keep an eye on American interest. A revolution in late September, besides causing the usual unrest, quiet naturally caused concern over the lives and property of Americans.
Alliance reached Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 6 December, and over the next three months, visited Santiago, Cuba; St. Nicholas Mole and Cape Haitien, Haiti; Puerto Plata, San Domingo; Salt and Grand Keys, Turk's Islands, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. John's, Antigua; Gudalupe; St. Pierre, Port Castries; St. Lucia, Kingston and St. Vincent, reaching the last-named port on 27 March. Departing Kingston on 1 April, the ship then visited the Tortugas, the Cuban Ports of Matanzas, Cardenas, and Nuevitas before arriving at Nassau on 4 June.
Continuing north, Alliance reached Norfolk on 12 September, and New York on the 16th. She operated with the North Atlantic Squadron out of Narragansett Bay, on maneuvers and tactical drills, that summer, ultimately putting back into New York on 22 September. She remained there until 11 December, when she again sailed for the West Indies.
Alliance's cruise soon took her to the familiar ports of St. John's, St. Pierre, and Santiago, before she sailed for the isthmus of Panama. She reached Aspinwall (now Colon) on 16 January 1885, where, the following day, the ship's commanding officer, Comdr. Lewis Clark, received a visit from the American Consul, Robert K. Wright, Jr. Wright reported the conditions as they prevailed Aspenwall to the newly arrived Clark, and requested that a marine guard be landed to protect the property of the Panama Railroad Company. Clark soon directed 1st Lt. Louis J. Gulick, USMC, to pick a suitable number of men and prepare to go ashore.
On the 18th, Clark telegraphed the Department of the Navy. reporting a "revolution in progress," and that the President of Panama had announced his "inability to protect the property of the Panama railroad Company." Clark further announced his intention to land his landing force "as soon as possible to protect American property" and that he had "put Alliance alongside the dock to assist in case of a demonstration." That same day, Lt. Gulick and his marines landed.
However, the situation ashore improved rapidly; and Alliance's marine guard returned to the ship the following day. Alliance quit Aspinwell and sailed north, visiting Cienfuegos, Cuba, and New Orleans (between 17 February and 22 March) before sailing to Key West. Reaching that port on 27 March, she had only been there four days when telegraphic orders directed her Colon-ward "with all practicable dispatch." The quiet left behind when Alliance had sailed just a short time before had proved illusory.
Less than two month had elapsed, wrote Capt. Harry A. Ellsworth, USMC, a marine historian, "before conditions on the isthmus necessitated the sending of other American warships to this land of seemingly perpetual revolution" to protect American interests. Alliance departed Key West on 31 March, and reached Aspinwell on 8 April to find much of the city in ruins, the place having been put to the torch by the warring factions during fighting there less than a week before.
The North Atlantic Squadron, under Rear Admiral James E. Jouett (whose flag flew in Tennessee), gathered at Aspinwall and expeditionary forces of sailors and marines arrived in two increments, the first on 10 April and the second on the 15th. The force was employed to ensure the "free transit" of the isthmus -- a transit threatened by the warring Colombian factions -- as guaranteed to the Colombian government in the 1846 treaty with "New Grenada."
On 11 April, Alliance stood out of Aspinwell harbor, accompanying the flagship Tennessee, with Rear Admiral Jouett embarked. They sailed to Cartagena, Colombia, with three government commissioners and a representative of the State Department, arriving at their destination on the morning of the 13th. Upon arrival, Admiral Jouett learned that the insurgents had recently attacked the city, but had been repulsed with great loss, and were standing by in steamers ready to proceed to Baranquillas. Concerned that the steamers had been commandeered without just compensation, Jouett detained them and sent for insurgent leaders on board Tennessee. After learning in an interview with the generals that the ships were being properly used, the admiral consented to their leaving Cartagena, adjuring them to seek peaceful settlement of their differences.
Jouett subsequently sent envoys form one of the insurgent general to the other insurgent leaders to Savanilla, a railhead from which they could travel to Baranquillas, on board Alliance. On the morning of the 17th, Alliance returned to Cartagena with a letter from as insurgent general, Felipe Perez, thanking the admiral courteously for his offer of mediation "but declining to take any steps in the matter until he should receive some information as to what steps the United States would take in the matter." Subsequently, Tennessee sailed for Aspinwall.
In the meantime, Rear Admiral Jouett had dispatched Alliance back to Cartagena to ascertain condition there in his absence. While en route, on 24 April 1885, Alliance sighted a brigantine and showed her own colors. In response, the stranger hoisted the Haitian flag, but then abruptly ran up Colombian colors when Alliance altered course. His suspicious aroused at this puzzling behavior, Comdr. Clark ordered a blank cartridge fired. When this produced no effect, he had a shot fired across the ship's bow. This brought her to.
As the gunboat closed, she could make out a dozen or so men topside on the stranger's deck. Closing still further, Alliance made out the ship's name, Ambrose Light, and her port of registry, Philadelphia. Clark sent a boat over, in command of Lt. M. Fisher Wright, to examine the ship's registry and her papers. Those on board told the boarding officer a number of conflicting stories, "still more conflicting than the effort to claim nationality by a display of flags," such as that the ship had been recently sold and transferred at some unknown port; and that she had been charted to carry troops (she had 60 armed men on board at the time). Wright discovered, though that the American register had been cut in two, and a "rough, new commission as a man-of-war" drawn up by insurgent leader, Pedro Lara (who styled himself as the "Governor Of Baranquilla"). As Clark later reported to Admiral Jouett: " As Pedro Lara has no authority to commission either men-of-war, issue letters of marque, etc., I have seized her as a prize and turn her over to you for your decision."
Ambrose Light was sent to the United States as a prize under Lt. Wright's command, assisted by Naval cadet H.H. Whittlesey and a crew of nine men, to be delivered to the United State's Marshal in the port of New York, where she arrived on 1 June. Soon after the ship made port, a stowaway, a Spanish Negro was discovered hiding behind some casks below decks. Rather then surrender to Colombian authorities, the man and decided to chance starvation. He was immediately taken ashore and given medical care.
In the meantime, the situation on the isthmus permitting it, the naval landing forces of sailors and marines were withdrawn on 25 May. Alliance sailed from Aspinwall for Key west on 4 June, and reached her destination on the 7th. Tragically, her commanding officer, Comdr. Clark, had been taken ill en route home, and dies at half past five in the evening of the day of the ship's arrival. A veteran of the Battle of Mobile Bay, having served in the steam sloop Richmond in that engagement, Clark had compiled a record of "gallant and efficient service." The Navy, an obituary stated, mourned "the loss of a valuable officer and a worthy gentlemen." Command of the ship devolving upon the executive officer, Lt. Comdr. George R. Duurand, Alliance sailed for New York, bearing the remains of her late commander and arrived at that port on 26 June 1885.
After cruising thence to Bar Harbor and Eastport, Maine, Alliance departed New York on 16 August and reached the Norfolk Navy Yard nine days later from Newport. Steaming thence to New York on 12 August and arriving the following day, Alliance cleared that port on 14 November for the Mediterranean.
Possessing orders to "investigate the reported fraudulent sale in 1884 of the American schooner Emma Jane by her master at the island of Johanna," and to inquire into reports that American flag vessels had been transporting slaves to Madagascar and adjacent islands from the east coast of Africa, Alliance reached Gibraltar on 15 December en route to the South Atlantic Station. Sailing from Gibraltar four days before Christmas of 1886, Alliance passed through the Mediterranean Sea, transited the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, and ultimately reached Aden on 26 January 1887. She proceeded thence to Zanzibar, arriving on 23 February, before leaving that port on the 27th for Johanna Island, which she reached on 3 March. There she seized part of the outfit of the schooner Emma Jane.
After visiting Madagascar and Mozambique soon thereafter Alliance paid a return call to the island of Johanna on 21 March before proceeding thence to the island of Mayotta, arriving three days later. She subsequently visited Madagascar again on 1 April.
Continuing her cruise in that region, she proceeded down the east coast of the African continent, visiting a succession of ports: Tamatave, Port Louis, Mauritius, Nos Vey, St. Augustine, Tullear Bay, and Mourandava; Port Natal, Port Elizabeth, and ultimately, Cape Town, from whence she sailed for Brazil on 25 June 1887.
Alliance reached Rio de Janeiro a month later, on 25 July 1887, joining the station's flagship. Lancaster, there. She then accompanied the flagship and the other ship assigned to the Station, Tallapoosa, as they left Rio for Estrella Bay for squadron drills and exercises, on 10 August. Returning to Rio eleven days later, Alliance sailed from that port on 17 September for Bahia, Brazil, arriving there one week later. She visited Pernambuco, Santos, and Santa Catherina. Proceeding thence on 12 November, she arrived at Maldonado on the 17th, and Montevideo, Uruguay, on 15 December, where she remained through Christmas and New Year's.
Departing Montevideo on 19 January 1888, Alliance visited Ensenada, returning to the Uruguayan capital a week later. The ship then cruised to Patagonian waters, dropping down to Punta Arenas, arriving there on 23 June after a two week passage form Montevideo. After a little over a month in that Chilean port, Alliance sailed for Montevideo on 24 July, reaching her destination on 8 August. She then visited Colonia and Buenos Aires, Argentina, before once more returning to the Uruguayan capital on 11 September 1888.
Over the remaining months of 1888, Alliance showed the flag at a succession of ports, the same ones she had visited previously on the station: Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, and Bahia, arriving back at Montevideo two days after Christmas of 1888 to spend the next two months there, not departing the Uruguayan capital until 27 February 1889 from Maldonado. Returning to Montevideo for a months time, Alliance then operated out of that port into mid-May of 1889, sailing thence to visit Maldonado again , as well as Colonia and Buenos Aires before she returned to Montevideo for the last time on 14 May. She sailed four days later, reaching Pernambuco on 6 June, and from there sailed from Hampton Roads, ultimately arriving there on 18 July. Proceeding up to the Norfolk Navy Yard, on 9 August, the ship was decommissioned there on 20 August 1889.
Following repairs and alterations at the Norfolk yard, Alliance was recommissioned on 16 January 1890 for service on the Asiatic Station. After local operations and trials, the ship sailed for her new duty station on 8 March 1890. Proceeding via Bermuda (which she visited from 14 to 16 March); Malaga, Spain (2 to 6 April); Gibraltar (6 to 22 April and 24 April); Tangier, Morocco (22 to 24 April); Messina, Italy (29 April to 6 May); Alexandria, Port Said, Suez, Egypt (between 1 and 23 May); Aden, Arabia (30 and 31 May); Colombo, Ceylon (11 to 22 June); Penang, Malay Peninsula (29 June to 1 July), Alliance reached Singapore, Malacca Strait, on 5 July 1890, reporting for duty to Rear Admiral George E. Belknap, commanding the Asiatic Station.
Calling at Kiti Harbor, Ponape Island, and Charbrol Harbor, Ualan Island, Alliance sailed for Japan, reaching Nagasaki on 4 December. Proceeding thence to Kobe, where she spent Christmas of 1890, the gunboat reached Yokohama on 28 December, remaining in that port through the end of January 1891. Visiting Owari Bay briefly on 3 February, Alliance returned to Yokohama on 4 February. There, Rear Admiral Belknap transferred his flag from Omaha to Alliance on 9 March 1891, wearing it in the latter until shifting to Monocacy on 6 April.
After visiting Kobe form 9 to 11 April, Alliance sailed for Korean waters, arriving at Chemulpo on 18 April; remaining there until 30 April, the ship sailed back to Japan soon thereafter, making arrival at Nagasaki on 3 May for a brief stay. Returning to Yokohama via Kaneda and Mississippi Bays, Alliance sailed for her first visit to the Chinese port of Shanghai on 26 May, making arrival on 1 June. Steaming thence to Chefoo, in North China, and arriving there on 11 August, she returned to Shanghai on 7 September, remaining there until 17 October, when she sailed of Korean water once more.
Alliance visited a succession of ports -- Chemulpo, Gensan (Jinsen, later Inchon), and Fusan (late Pusan) -- before returning briefly to Nagasaki (4 to 6 November) for the first of what would be four port visits there over her next several months on the station. She also visited Chemulpo again, as well as Yokohama, Hong Kong and Shanghai before she sailed for Yokohama on 14 August 1892 for San Francisco. Reaching her destination on 11 September, she shifted to the Mare Island Navy Yard on the following day, and remained there undergoing voyage repairs until 23 September. During her overhaul, the ship was assigned to the Pacific Station on 15 September 1892. Touching briefly at San Francisco on 23 and 24 September, Alliance sailed for Honolulu, Hawaii, on 24 September, and arrived at that port on 12 October. She remained there until 26 November, when she got underway for Samoa.
Alliance arrived at Pago Pago on 13 December, and sailed for Apia, Samoa, two days before Christmas, arriving the following day, 24 December. Early in the morning of 28 December, a violent storm began blowing up -- of less intensity then the one that had wrecked three American and three German warships in the same harbor three years before, but violent nonetheless Alliance began dragging, even after she had let go a second anchor, and soon grounded slightly on the reef on her starboard quarter.
Providentially, Passed Assistant Engineer H.N. Stevenson, Alliance's chief engineer, on his own initiative, had a full crew of men on duty at the engines and had the fires ready for use in case the ship need to get underway in a hurry. His foresight paid off handsomely, for it took only eight minutes for the ship to begin moving, working her way out of her predicament on the reef and out into deep water. She had only lost two anchors and suffered slight damage to her signal screw -- had it taken the usual 30 minutes to get up steam in that situation the ship may very well have been lost. Needless to say, Passed Assistant Engineer Stevenson had earned the high praise of his commanding officer, Capt. William H. Whiting for his "energy and ability" displayed in that situation.
Alliance remained at Samoa until 30 January 1893, alternating between Pago Pago and Apia, when she cleared the former place for Honolulu. The ship then remained in the Hawaiian Islands through mid-March, visiting Honolulu and the other island ports of Hilo, Hawaii and Lahaina, Maui. She ultimately departed Honolulu on 16 March 1893 for the west coast of the United States.
Reaching Mare Island on 28 March, the ship remained there into mid-May, at which time she sailed for Acapulco, Mexico, on 15 May. Alliance then worked her way down the Pacific coast of Central and South America, visiting Corinto, Nicaraua; Panama; and Callao, Peru; before retracing her route in the course of protecting American interests -- visiting Panama and Corinto again between 26 July and 17 September.
Between late September 1893 and January 1894, Alliance "showed the flag" and watched local conditions at a succession of ports: San Jose de Guatemala (twice), Corinto (twice), Acajutla, La Libertad (twice), the Gulf of Fonseca, the Bay of La Union, and Amapala, before she worked her way to Callao, Peru, arriving there on 31 January 1893.
Transferred to the South Atlantic Station, Alliance transited the Strait of Magellan, ultimately arriving at Montevideo on 30 March 1894. She sailed from that port on 18 April, and sailed for Norfolk. After proceeding via Bridgetown, Barbados; Port Castries, Saint Lucia, West Indies; and Charlotte Amalie, St, Thomas, Virgin Islands; Alliance arrived at Hampton Roads on 18 June. Shifting to the Norfolk Navy Yard the following day the ship was placed out of commission there on 30 June 1894.
Recommissioned on 19 January 1895, Alliance commenced operations that spring as an apprentice training; departing Newport on 17 April 1895, the ship cruised to European waters, visiting Southampton, England; Havre, France; Gibraltar, Tangier and Madeira before returning to the east coast of the United States, reaching Yorktown, Va., on 21 August. After remaining there for a month, she shifted to Hampton Roads on 21 September, thence to New York. During the following year she conducted another training cruise, as she did the following summer, visiting Southampton; Lisbon, Portugal; Funchal, Madeira; Frigate Bay, St. Kitts; and St. Thomas before putting into Newport News, and proceeding thence to the New York Navy Yard for voyage repairs.
Alliance continued to operate in the training role over the next few years, but it was becoming obvious that her days as a steamer were numbered, and an Army and Navy Journal article noted early in 1898: "The old Alliance appears to require a great deal of repairing. She was six months under repairs at New York last year, and over two months have already been expended upon her this year at Portsmouth, an the end is not yet. It is doubtful whether there is any economy in using for training ships a broken down vessel, half-rotten, leaky, constantly under repairs and completely collapsed steam power. It will be remembered that it took the Alliance forty-six days to crawl from Madeira to St. Thomas..."
During 1899's practice cruise Alliance sailed form New London on 1 July 1899, and visited Plymouth, South Hampton, Gibraltar, Tangier and Madeira before departing European waters on 23 September for the West Indies. Reaching St. Thomas on 26 October, the ship proceeded thence for San Juan, reaching her destination on 28 October; while at the latter port her crew carried out small-arms target practice ashore. Underway on 11 November, Alliance sailed for Hampton Roads, reaching there on 23 November.
After coaling at Lambert Point, she then proceeded north and disembarked a draft of apprentices at Tompkinsville, N.Y., before she steamed to Boston. There she embarked another draft of apprentices between 6 December 1899 to 3 January 1900, sailing on the latter date for her second training cruise of the year.
Alliance steamed to Newport before proceeding to a succession of ports and places on her training cruise: Barbados, St. Lucia, Port-of-Spain (Trinidad), the Gulf of Paria (twice); La Brea, Trinidad; San Juan; Port Royal and Kingston, Jamaica; Guantanamo Bay and Key West, before arriving in Hampton Roads on 16 May, stopping there only briefly before pushing on for Tompkinsville and the New York Navy Yard.
Mooring at the yard on 26 May 1900 Alliance was placed out of commission 2 June for extensive repairs which included the conversion of the ship to a sailing vessel. Completing her overhaul on 30 March, the ship was recommissioned on 22 April 1901 and left the yard on 17 May.
Alliance resumed her activities, training landsmen, soon thereafter, attached to the Atlantic Taining Squadron. During 1902, the ship visited Queenstown, Ireland; Lisbon, Portugal; Algiers, and Madeira before undergoing voyage repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard; subsequently, the ship sailed south to Trinidad, St. Kitts, San Juan and Jamaica before arriving back in Hampton Roads on 13 June 1903. The following year, 1904, Alliance was among the ships reviewed by President Theodore Roosevelt at Oyster Bay, Long Island, on 17 August 1904.
The ships last duty commenced soon thereafter, when she was dispatched to Culebra, Puerto Rico, to serve as station ship and store ship at the naval station there. Regarded as "unserviceable for war purposes," she was decommissioned at San Juan on 7 July 1911, and her name was struck for the Naval Vessel Register on 9 August 1911. Her hulk however, remained in government hands until disposed of, subsequently.
9 August 2001