Naval History and Heritage Command

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Merrimack I (Ship)

(Ship: t. 460; cpl. 220; a. 20 9‑pdrs.; 8 6‑pdrs.)

A river formed by the junction of Permigewasset and Winnipesaukee Rivers at Franklin, N.H., flowing across northeastern Massachusetts before emptying in the Atlantic at Newburyport, Mass.


Built by funds subscribed by the citizens of Newburyport, Mass., the first Merrimack was launched 12 October 1798 by an Association of Shipwrights and presented to the Navy.

Capt. Moses Brown commanded Merrimack when she was placed in service in December 1798. She departed Boston 3 January 1799 for the Windward Islands to protect American merchantmen in the Caribbean during the naval war with France. She arrived Prince Rupert Bay on the 20th, and, for the next 2 years, cruised in the West Indies and escorted convoys to the United States. On 28 June 1799, she took her first prize L'Magicienne, the former American naval schooner Retaliation, captured 20 November 1798 and taken into the French Navy. She took French letter‑of‑marque schooner Bonaparte 7 August; and with Ganges and Pickering, recaptured American schooner John on the 15th after that ship had struck her colors to French privateer Revelleiu the day before.

Merrimack freed American brig Ceres 6 June 1800 after had been taken by L'Hazard 18 May 1800. On arriving off Curaçao, 22 September, she found that a French force of 16 Ships from Guaduloupe was besieging the city with 1,400 men. That evening, with Patapsco, Merrimack stood into the harbor through heavy fire from French cannon and muskets. The American gunners replied with great spirit driving the enemy troops from their guns; but from time to time during the night the French soldiers renewed the cannonade. The next morning the French troops reembarked in confusion and fled.

Merrimack captured French privateer sloop Phoenix 20 October and later in the year took French brig Brilliant. A list of American prizes credits Merrimack with recapturing English schooner Godfrey but gives no details about the action.

Early in 1801, Merrimack escorted a convoy of merchantmen home to Boston. She was stripped of naval equipment in April and was sold later in the year. Subsequently, while operating in merchant service under the name Monticello, the ship was lost off Cape Cod, Mass.

Published: Mon Aug 10 08:00:46 EDT 2015