During April, 1778, John Paul Jones of the American warship, Ranger, raided the English coast—burned the docks at Whitehaven—captured the Drake—escaped the Britsh fleet—all before sailing to France. The raid forced the British to deploy warships along their coast, keeping them away from America, and encouraged the French to provide monetary support for the American Navy.
‘For they, ’twas they, unsheathed the ruthless blade,
And heaven shall ask the havock it has made.’
The Yankee Man-of-War.
‘T IS of a gallant Yankee ship that flew the stripes and stars,
And the whistling wind from the west-nor’-west blew through the pitch-pine spars;
With her starboard tacks aboard, my boys, she hung upon the gale;
On an autumn night we raised the light on the old Head of Kinsale.
It was a clear and cloudless night, and the wind blew steady and strong,
As gayly over the sparkling deep our good ship bowled along;
With the foaming seas beneath her bow the fiery waves she spread,
And bending low her bosom of snow, she buried her lee cat-head.
There was no talk of short’ning sail by him who walked the poop,
And under the press of her pond’ring jib, the boom bent like a hoop!
And the groaning water-ways told the strain that held her stout main-tack,
But he only laughed as he glanced aloft at a white and silvery track.
The mid-tide meets in the Channel waves that flow from shore to shore,
And the mist hung heavy upon the land from Featherstone to Dunmore,
And that sterling light in Tusker Rock where the old bell tolls each hour,
And the beacon light that shone so bright was quench’d on Waterford Tower.
The nightly robes our good ship wore were her whole topsails three,
Her spanker and her standing jib—the courses bring free.
“Now, lay aloft! my heroes bold, not a moment must be panned!”
And royals and top-gallant sails were quickly on each mast
What looms upon our starboard bow? What hangs upon the breeze?
‘T is time our good ship hauled her wind abreast the old Saltees,
For by her ponderous press of sail and by her consorts four
We saw our morning visitor was a British man-of-war.
Up spake our noble Captain then, as a shot ahead of us past—
“Haul snug your flowing courses! lay your topsail to the mast!”
Those Englishmen gave three loud hurrahs from the deck of their covered ark,
And we answered back by a solid broadside from the decks of our patriot bark.
“Out booms! out booms!” our skipper cried, “out booms and give her sheet,”
And the swiftest keel that was ever launched shot ahead of the British fleet,
And amidst a thundering shower of shot, with stun’-sails hoisting away,
Down the North Channel Paul Jones did steer just at the break of day.