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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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(Brig: tonnage 200; complement 45; armament 8 12-pounders)


Sir Robert Pigot (1720-1796), an English army officer who had served with distinction in the Battle of Bunker Hill, commanded British troops in Rhode Island in 1778. When taken into Continental service, prize schooner Pigot retained her former name.


Late in August 1778 General John Sullivan's Continental troops evacuated Rhode Island, the island (also called Aquidneck) in Narragansett Bay which has given the colony and state its name. The British promptly placed batteries on the shores commanding the eastern channel of Narragansett Bay, between Rhode Island and the mainland, and stationed 200-ton brig Pigot on guard in the channel. At his own expense and risk, Major Silas Talbot fitted out small sloop Hawke at Providence with two 3-pounders and manned her with 60 soldiers. On the night of 28 October he drifted down river from Mount Hope Bay, steered by poles, and slipped quietly past the British batteries undetected. About an hour and a half past midnight, someone on Pigot hailed Hawke and the brig's marines fired upon the sloop from her quarterdeck. The Americans, holding their fire until Hawke's jibboom had pierced Pigot's sails, opened with a volley of musketry. The British defenders on deck immediately begged quarter and surrendered. No life was lost on either side.

In the spring of 1779, the Navy Board at Boston purchased prize Pigot, and she operated under Talbot as Argo guarding Narragansett Bay. During Argo's cruises she alone kept these important waters open to vital American coastal shipping. Legend holds that she was subsequently burnt.

5 February 2002