Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Mercury I (Ketch)

(Ketch: t. 135; l. 72'6"; b. 20'6"; dph. 8'9-")

A Roman god represented with winged feet who served as messenger for the other gods; a silver‑white metal which is liquid at ordinary temperatures; the planet nearest to the Sun.

I

The first Mercury was a ketch authorized by the Continental Congress in 1776 and built at Philadelphia by Wharton & Humphreys.

After packet duty in Delaware Bay, Mercury, Capt. William Pickles in command, sailed for the Netherlands late in August 1780 carrying Henry Laurens with a draft of a treaty of alliance and other diplomatic documents. Saratoga escorted the packet until she was well out to sea and then allowed her to proceed alone. Mercury was captured off the Newfoundland Banks 10 September. Although they were thrown overboard to prevent their failing into enemy hands, the dispatches did not sink and were recovered by the British. Laurens and the packet's crew were imprisoned in England.

Published: Fri Aug 07 09:51:08 EDT 2015