(Schooner: tonnage 107; complement 76; armament 14 guns)
U.S. warship, Delaware, commanded by Capt. Stephen Decatur, Sr., captured a French privateer, La Croyable, off Great Egg Harbor, N.J., on 7 July 1798. Before her capture, the schooner had been preying upon shipping off the Delaware Capes and had taken a British brigantine and a Philadelphia merchantman, Liberty. She had also boarded and robbed coaster Alexander Hamilton.
The U.S. Navy purchased La Croyable on 30 July 1798, manned her at Philadelphia, renamed her Retaliation, and placed her under the command of Lt. William Bainbridge.
Retaliation departed Norfolk on 28 October 1798 with Montezuma and Norfolk and cruised in the West Indies protecting American commerce during the Quasi-War with France. On 20 November, French frigates, L'Insurgente and Volontaire overtook the Retaliation while her consorts were away on a chase and forced Bainbridge to surrender the hopelessly out-gunned schooner. However, even as a prisoner, the clever young American officer managed to serve his country. He saved Montezuma and Norfolk by convincing the senior French commander that those American warships were too powerful for his frigates and induced him to abandon the chase.
Renamed Magicienne by the French, the schooner again came into American hands on 28 June, when a broadside from USS Merrimack forced her to haul down her colors. She performed convoy duty in the Caribbean before returning to Philadelphia in August. Her crew was then discharged and the schooner was sold on 29 November 1799 to Thomas and Peter Mackie.
25 September 2005