Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Queen of France

Marie Antoinette, daughter of Emperor Francis I and Maria Theresa, was born in Vienna 2 November 1755 and married the dauphin, Louis, at Versailles 16 May 1770. She became Queen of France upon her husband's accession to the throne 10 May 1774, and reigned throughout the American Revolution. After imprisonment during the French Revolution, she was guillotined 16 October 1793.

(Fr: a. 28 guns)

Queen of France, an old ship purchased in France in 1777 by American commissioners, Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, and fitted out as a 28-gun frigate, was in Boston Harbor by December 1778. In a squadron commanded by Capt. John Burroughs Hopkins, Queen of France, Capt. Joseph Olney in command, departed Boston 13 March 1779 to cruise along the Atlantic coast as far south as Charleston to destroy small armed vessels operating out of New York to prey upon American shipping. Near dawn 6 April, some 16 miles east of Cape Henry, Va., they sighted schooner Hibernia, a 10-gun privateer, and took her after a short chase. At about the same time the next morning, the American warships saw a fleet of 9 sails and pursued them until catching their quarry that afternoon. Ship Jason, mounting 20 guns and carrying 150 men, headed the list of seven prizes that day, including also ship Meriah, carrying 10 six pounders and richly laden with provisions and cavalry equipment, brigs Patriot, Prince Ferdinand, John, and Batchelor, and finally schooner Chance. Hopkins ordered his ships home with their prizes, and Queen of France reached Boston with Maria, Hibernia, and three brigs on the 20th.

While Queen of France was in Boston, Capt. John Peck Rathburne relieved Capt. Olney in command of the frigate. She sailed 18 June with Providence and Ranger, and fell in with the British Jamaica Fleet of some 150 ships near the Banks of Newfoundland about the middle of July. In the dense fog, the American warships pretended to be British frigates of the convoy-s escort and, sending boarding parties across by boats, quietly took possession of eleven prizes before slipping away at night. Three of the prizes were later recaptured, but the eight which reached Boston with the squadron late in August were sold for over a million dollars.

Queen of France departed Boston with frigates Providence and Boston and sloop Ranger 23 November and cruised east of Bermuda. They took 12-gun privateer Dolphin 5 December before arriving Charleston, S.C. on the 23rd.

Queen of France was sunk at Charleston to avoid falling into British hands when that city surrendered 11 May 1780.

Published: Tue Aug 25 14:42:18 EDT 2015