Joseph Bucklin Society
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Site Summary. A national history center both for the Gaspee Affair of 1772 and also for
Bucklin History 1600-1899. We emphasize the pre-Revolutionary history of
Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the events and people involved in the
Americans' 1772 attack on the Royal Navy ship Gaspee. We maintain a 4,000 person biography and genealogy database
and history for the Bucklin family.
Gaspee Hist Ed. 2011 - K
2000 through 2011.
See Copyright Information, Warnings, Disclaimers.
Planning - The tasks and schedules
to capture the
The planning of the attack on the Gaspee appears to have been meticulous. There were a
number of events which came together like clockwork, suggesting the events of
the afternoon of June 9, 1772, and the night following were not a matter of mere
chance. circumstances. The Gaspee usually had a local pilot on board the ship,
to prevent the ship from being grounded or damaged in the shallow parts of the
Bay. Yet, on the afternoon of June 9, 1772, the local pilot was not aboard the
Gaspee. This left Lieutenant Dudingston, commanding the Gaspee, enforcing his
Majesty’s customs law without the benefit of a pilot onboard.
Captain Lindsay, commanding the coastal packet sloop, the Hannah, seems
somehow to have know of the Gaspee’s lack of a local pilot that afternoon. The
Hannah regularly passed through Narragansett Bay in a scheduled daily trip from
Newport at the south end of the Bay to Providence at the north end of the Bay.
Normally Lindsay stopped his shop and allowed inspection of it ordered. However
on this day of June 9, 1772 Captain Lindsay, seemed to want to pass near the
Gaspee. When signaled to stop his ship for the Gaspee crew to board it and
inspect it, Lindsay conspicuously hoisted full sails and turned up the Bay
toward Providence. Lindsay sailed in a pattern to deliberately lure the Gaspee
onto a sandbar, hidden under water but well known to local ship pilots (such as
the one not on board the Gaspee that particular day)..
The Gaspee was grounded on the sandbar at the exact place, at the exact tide
conditions, and at the exact lunar conditions on which merchant John Brown had
been grounded and had to stay overnight onboard on a ship several years before.
The tide at the time of the Gaspee's grounding was not only just exactly right
to ground the ship, bit also was such an unusual
variation between high and low tide that it would be impossible to remove a
grounded ship until 3:00 a.m. the next morning. Furthermore it was one of those
instances when the lunar conditions were such that it would absolutely totally
black at midnight, with no moon whatsoever. (This is a point on which the Joseph
Bucklin Society received extremely high level research from an eminent tide
expert and an eminent astronomer. - It was an exact match of circumstances with
John Brown’s experience, and occurs only occasionally in a period of years.)
Within a few hours after the grounding of the Gaspee longboats, each
commanded by an experienced sea captains, were loaded with men equipped and
ready to fight to board the Gaspee. Eight long boats set out from Providence,
one long boat set out from Bristol, and another boat set out from Warren. These
boats all had different distances to go, some rowing against the tide, some were
rowing with the tide. In spite of differences of start times and rowing times
needed, all the boats arrived at the same spot at 12:00 midnight. There they
met, in total darkness, without lights, without shouting, in silence, with
muffled oars, near the Gaspee. In silence, they formed a line of boats,
commanded in military style into two squadrons, and rowed silently toward the
fore and aft corners of the grounded Gaspee, so that the cannons on the side of
the Gaspee could not be aimed at the boats.
The planning of the attack was well done.
It was in the execution of the attack, that an unexpected event occurred, the
event that turned the probable plan of a legally possible arrest of the English
ship captain into an act of war and treason! The event was
Shot of the American Revolution.