Military Wiki
Battle off Halifax (1780)
Part of the American Revolutionary War
Date10 July 1780
LocationHalifax, Nova Scotia
Result American victory
United States United States of America  Kingdom of Great Britain United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
United States William Williams Kingdom of Great Britain Thomas Ross
1 Privateer (16 guns)
British report: 130 men
American report: 90 men
1 Brig
Casualties and losses
British report: 33 killed and wounded
American report: 1 killed, 2 wounded[1]
8 killed; 10 wounded
1 Brig captured

The Battle off Halifax took place on 10 July 1780 during the American Revolutionary War. The British Brig HMS Resolution fought the American USS Viper and heavy casualties happened on both sides.[2] The battle was "one of the bloodiest battles in the history of privateering.... a loss of 51 lives in a single battle was virtually unheard of."[3]


During the American Revolution, Americans regularly attacked Nova Scotia by land and sea. American privateers devastated the maritime economy by raiding many of the coastal communities,[4] such as the numerous raids on Liverpool and on Annapolis Royal.[5] A few months before the Battle of Halifax, in December 1779 the schooner Hope wrecked near the Sambro Island Light on the Three Sisters Rocks. Captain Henry Baldwin and six other crew were killed. Weeks later, 170 British sailors were lost when two vessels - the North and St. Helena - were wrecked in a storm when entering Halifax harbour.[6][7]


Just off Sambro Island Light, the American privateer Viper (22 guns, 130 men), under the command of William Williams took the British Brig Resolution (16 guns) under the command of Captain Thomas Ross of Halifax.[8] In the "hot engagement" for 90 minutes, the British had killed 8 and 10 wounded, while the American killed and wounded totalled 33 men. Both vessels were much disabled and the British surrendered.[9]


American privateers remained a threat to Nova Scotian ports for the rest of the war. For example, after a failed attempt to raid Chester, Nova Scotia, American privateers struck again in the Raid on Lunenburg in 1782.

See also


  2. Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia, Vol. 2, p. 608
  3. Plunder & Pillage: Atlantic Canada's Brutal and Bloodthirsty Pirates and ... By Harold Horwood, p. 134
  4. Benjamin Franklin also engaged France in the war, which meant that many of the privateers were also from France.
  5. Roger Marsters (2004). Bold Privateers: Terror, Plunder and Profit on Canada's Atlantic Coast" , p. 87-89
  6. p. 78
  9. Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia, Vol. 2, p. 608

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