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Boston

A city and seaport located in eastern Massachusetts on Massachusetts Bay at the mouths of the Charles and Mystic Rivers. It is the capital of Massachusetts and the seat of government for Suffolk County. One of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston was the site of historical events far too numerous to mention here.


II

(Fr.: t. 514; l. 114'3" (gun deck); b. 32'; dph. 10'3"; a. 5 12-pdrs. sb., 19 9-pdrs. sb., 2 6-pdrs. sb., 4 4-pdrs. sb.)

The second Boston, a frigate rated at 24 quns, was launched on 3 June 1776 at Newburyport, Mass., by the firm of Jonathan Greenleaf and Stephen and Ralph Cross and commissioned sometime
in the spring of 1777, Capt. Hector McNeill in command.


Boston put to sea on 21 May 1777 in company with the 44-gun frigate Hancock for a cruise in the North Atlantic. On 7 June, the two American frigates encountered and captured the 28-gun British frigate HMS Fox. A month later, those three ships met HMS Flora, HMS Rainbow, and HMS Victor. Hancock and Fox were captured in the ensuing engagement, but Boston made good her escape. On 16 July, she put in at Wiscasset on the banks of the Sheepscot River in what is now the state of Maine.


On 15 February 1778, Boston returned to sea with John Adams embarked for the voyage to France to take up his new post as commissioner to France. En route, she captured the British merchantman Martha. The frigate arrived in Bordeaux on 1 April and disembarked her important passenger. She then cruised European waters and took four prizes before returning to North America at Portsmouth, N.H., on 15 October. In the spring of 1779, Boston moved south to patrol Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay. During the summer of 1779, she made a brief cruise in company with the frigates Deane and Confederacy. Little is known of that endeavor other than the facts that the area of operations extended from Cape Hatteras to Long Island and that Boston took at least one significant prize, the 24-gun British privateer Pole.


On 29 July, she and Deane exited Chesapeake Bay once more for the second of their 1779 summer cruises. The two ships plied waters off the Atlantic coast for about five weeks. During that time, the two frigates met and took eight prizes. Four of their captures were Loyalist privateers operating out of British-held New York. Two of the others were more important. The 16-gun packet Sandwich carried British Army officers as passengers and they were made prisoners of war. The other was the Royal Navy sloop of war HMS Thorn. Boston and her consort completed the cruise at Boston on 6 September.


The frigate refitted at Boston and then put to sea on 23 November in company with Providence, Queen of France, and Ranger. They headed south for Charleston, S.C., to participate in the defense of that city. En route, the squadron encountered and captured the 12-gun privateer brig Dolphin. Boston and her squadron-mates sailed into Charleston on 23 December. There, they remained until the city fell to the British on 11 May 1780. During the latter stages of the siege, Boston's crew went ashore to assist in the land defense of the city. When Charleston fell, Boston was captured by the British and was pressed into their service under the name HMS Charlestown. Little is known of her British service other than the fact that she performed some blockade duty off the Massachusetts coast in 1781.

Raymond A. Mann


23 December 2005