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Warren III (Sloop-of-War)

(SlpW: t. 385; cpl. 160; a. 20 guns)

Joseph Warren, born on 11 June 1741 at Roxbury, Mass., graduated with distinction from Harvard College in 1759. After a year as headmaster of the Roxbury Grammar School, he entered the medical profession and later practiced as a physician in Boston. There, he became interested in politics and formed an early association with the firebrand Samuel Adams.

As the break in relations between the colonies and Great Britain approached, Warren abandoned his medical practice to enter military service. While still in Boston, he dispatched William Dawes and Paul Revere on their famous nocturnal rides to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of approaching British troops on 18 April 1775.

Elected a major general by the provincial congress on 14 June, Warren went out to Bunker Hill to look over the defenses shortly before the British attack on the afternoon of 17 June 1775. Although he consistently refused to take command, claiming that he would take part in the battle only as a volunteer, Warren eventually tried to exert leadership in rallying the colonial militia at Breed's Hill. Unfortunately, he was shot and killed by a British soldier while engaged in the attempt


The third Warren, a copper-sheathed sloop-of-war, was built at Newburyport, Mass. On 6 July 1799, while she was still under construction, the Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, ordered Master Commandant Timothy Newman to take command of Warren. The ship was fitted out there, into the winter, and was probably commissioned in either November or December of 1799.

Assigned the duty of protecting American commerce in Cuban waters against the possible incursions of French warships or privateers during the "Quasi War" with France, Warren set sail for Havana, Cuba, on 31 December 1799, escorting the schooner Trio. The latter was laden with stores for the American men-of-war on the Havana station. As the ships stood out of Nantasket Roads, near Boston, Sailing Master Joseph Whitmore, in Warren, penned fervently in his journal, "God send us safe to our orders End in our Lawfull (sic) Ways in supporting our Independence."

Trio was separated from the sloop-of-war about 4 or 5 January 1800, and Warren proceeded on independently. The passage proved uneventful until the 17th, when six men came to Master Commandant Newman's cabin door at half-past six in the evening, swearing that "they would not do Duty and . . . would go aboard the first British Man-of-War they could see." According to Sailing Master Whitmore's journal, one of the men wielded the cook's hatchet and all apparently "used other Mutenous (sic) language." As a reward for their behavior, the six were promptly clapped in irons, to stand trial later.

At 1300 on 19 January, Warren spoke with the sloop Mary, 18 days out of Philadelphia and bound for Cuba. That vessel needed assistance, and Warren provided her with rigging and the ship's foretopmast stay sail. Three hours later, Warren met the schooner Lucy, 25 days out of Providence, R.I., and took her into the convoy. Warren later passed a hawser to Mary and took her in tow. The three ships remained in company for five days, before the sloop-of-war lost sight of the merchantmen.

Warren reached Havana early in the afternoon of 29 January, almost a month out of Nantasket Roads. Over ensuing days, she supplied the brig Norfolk and assisted the brig Fanny, off Salem, on 11 February. On the morning of 16 February, she got underway in company with Norfolk to escort a convoy of 19 merchantmen out of the coastal waters off Havana. Warren remained at sea until 8 March, when she dropped anchor at Matanzas, Cuba, for upkeep and to take on fresh water. She returned to patrol duties off the coast of Cuba at sunrise on 13 March.

After a week at sea, Warren returned to Havana on the 20th and waited for a fleet of merchantmen to emerge from the harbor and form a convoy. That evening, a dozen ships sailed; and Warren joined them as they emerged from the harbor and gave them routing instructions as they headed for the United States. Warren remained at sea, on patrol, for another week thereafter, and returned to Havana on the 28th. She stood out to sea again on the morning of 2 April and proceeded to Matanza where she arrived on the 5th.

Warren joined Ganges and a convoy of 22 merchantmen on 21 April and sailed with them for a time before returning to Havana early in the following month. Sailing again on 5 May, the sloop-of-war patrolled off the Cuban coast until she arrived back at Havana on the 23d.

Warren operated locally between Havana and the pan of Matanza until mid-June and anchored in Havana harbor on the 15th of that month. Nine days later, the ship's doctor sent Quarter Gunner William Dogget ashore to the hospital at Havana, the man suffering from a fever. Ominously, Dogget's case signified only the beginning of what would become a terrible ordeal for the sloop-of-war Warren.

During Warren's stay at Havana, her crew, hitherto "in general, healthy, and robust," began to have "evident symptoms of an increasing universal debility." Warren, departing Havana in company with the frigate General Greene and 12 merchantmen, sailed for Veracruz, Mexico, on 26 June.

Gunner Dogget, convalescent in the hospital at Havana, was spared seeing the agony of many of his shipmates. For the remainder of the month of June, an average of 15 men per day were incapacitated for performing ship's work. The first fatality occurred shortly before dawn on 30 June, when young Midshipman Jonathan Greenleaf died. Nineteen men, recorded Whitmore, who survived the yellow fever epidemic, were then down with "the fever."

Thirteen more, including the doctor's mate, died before the ship reached Veracruz on 13 July. Warren sent 20 men ashore there, but four died in the ensuing days. Warren ultimately departed Veracruz on the 23d, having had an average of 20 to 24 sick men ashore in the hospital and 25 on board unfit for duty. Sailing Master Whitmore noted on 25 July that two dozen men were sick but noted optimistically that there were "many mending."

Warren headed back to Havana; two men died on 27 July, three on the 28th, and one on 1 August. The following day at 1000 in the morning, the captain's only son, John Newman along on the voyage as a midshipman, "departed this life." Warren subsequently anchored at Havana on 15 August, dropping her hook at 1100 that morning. Four hours later, Master Commandant Newman succumbed to the illness that had decimated his crew and killed his only son, when he, too, died. His remains were accordingly sent ashore and interred at Havana.

Lt. Joseph Strout then took command and, soon thereafter, took the ship northward, bound for the United States.

Meanwhile, as Warren sailed homeward, Secretary Stoddert ordered Capt. James Barren to take command of the ship as soon as possible after she arrived, with expressed instructions to "relieve the sick; recruit men to fill the deficiency; cleanse, reprovision, rewater, and prepare her for another cruise with the most dispatch." Stoddert later instructed Barren to provide "all the protection in your power to the vessels which sail under your convoy, and see that as many as may be practicable to their destined ports."

Warren apparently arrived at Boston in the autumn of 1800. She subsequently fitted out for another cruise and sailed for the West Indies, where she operated, on patrol and escort duties primarily off St. Martin's and St. Bartholomew's Islands, near Guadalupe and Haiti, until the "Quasi-War" with France ended early the following year. Warren returned to the United States that spring and was sold by 1 June 1801 at Boston.

Published: Mon Oct 26 10:01:09 EDT 2015