Very little is known concerning the Southern Navy during the Revolutionary War. Each State had her own small navy, and many unfortunately fell into the hands of the enemy. Yet, the infant navy of Virginia had many small and extremely fleet vessels. The names of some of the Virginia ships, built at Gosport,Fredericksburg, and other Virginia towns, were the: Tartar, Oxford, Thetis, Virginia, Industry, Cormorant, Loyalist (which appears to have been captured from the British), Pocohontas, Dragon, Washington,Tempest, Defiance, Oliver Cromwell, Renown, Apollo, and the Marquis Lafayette. Virginia also owned a prisonship called the Gloucester. Brigs and brigantines owned by the State were called the Raleigh, Jefferson, Sallie Norton, Northampton, Hampton, Greyhound, Dolphin, Liberty, Mosquito, Rochester, Willing Lass, Wilkes, American Fabius, Morning Star, and Mars. Schooners were the Adventure, Hornet,Speedwell, Lewis, Nicholson, Experiment, Harrison, Mayflower, Revenge,Peace and Plenty, Patriot, Liberty, and the Betsy. Sloops were the Virginia, Rattlesnake, Scorpion, Congress, Liberty, Eminence,Game-Cock, and the American Congress. Some of the galleys were the Accomac, Diligence, Hero, Gloucester, Safeguard, Manly, Henry,Norfolk, Revenge, Caswell, Protector, Washington, Page, Lewis, Dragon,and Dasher. There were two armed pilot boats named Molly and Fly. Barges were the York and Richmond. The Oxford, Cormorant, and Loyalist were prizes. The two latter were taken from the English by the French and sold to Virginia. Unfortunately, too many Americans fell into the hands of the enemy during the Revolutionary War and their crews languished out the remainder of their days in foul dungeons where famine and disease made short work of them. Little remains now except the names of the vessels.
The Virginia was built at Gosport. The Dragon and some others were built at Fredericksburg. Many were built at Norfolk. The Hermit was captured early in the war by the British. The gallant little Mosquito was taken by the Ariadne and her crew was confined in a loathsome jail at Barbadoes. But her officers were sent to England where they were confined in Fortune jail at Gosport. Ultimately, these officers escaped and made their way to France. Their nameswere: Captain John Harris; Lieutenant Chamberlayne; Midshipman Alexander Moore; Alexander Dock, Captain of Marines; and George Catlett, Lieutenant of Marines. The Raleigh was captured by the British frigate Thames. Her crew was so shamefully maltreated that upon representations made to the Council of State upon their condition, it was recommended that by way of retaliation the crew of the Solebay, a sloop of war which had fallen into the hands of the Americans, should be visited with the like severe treatment.
Source: American Prisoners by Danske Dandridge.
County and Probate Records to Help you Find your Virginia Ancestors