Military Wiki
Raid on Lunenburg
Part of the American Revolution
Raid on Lunenburg (1782) by A.J. Wright
DateJuly 1, 1782
LocationLunenburg, Nova Scotia
Result American Privateer victory
 Kingdom of Great Britain  United States of America
Commanders and leaders
Colonel John Creighton (judge)
Major D. C. Jessen
Major Joseph Pernette
Captain Noah Stoddard
5 vessels, 170 crew members
Casualties and losses
one killed; 3 prisoners four wounded[1]

Not to be confused with the Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (1756)

The Raid on Lunenburg (also known as the Sack of Lunenburg) occurred during the American Revolution when the famous American Privateer Captain Noah Stoddard of Fairhaven, Massachusetts and four other privateer vessels attacked the British settlement at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on 1 July 1782.[2] In Nova Scotia, the assault on Lunenburg was the most spectacular raid of the war.[3] On the morning of 1 July Stoddard led approximately 170 American privateers in four heavily armed vessels and overpowered Lunenburg’s defence, capturing the blockhouses and burning the house of the local militia colonel. The privateers then looted the settlement and kept the militia at bay with the threat of destroying the entire town. The American privateers plundered the town and took three prisoners, who were later released from Boston without a ransom having been paid.[3][4]

Historical context

Raid on Lunenburg (1782) – National Historic Sites of Canada Plaque with earthworks of Blockhouse Hill in background, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

During the American Revolution, Nova Scotia was invaded regularly by American Revolutionary forces by land and sea. Throughout the war, American privateers devastated the maritime economy by raiding many of the coastal communities. There were constant attacks by privateers,[5] such as the numerous raids on Liverpool (October 1776, March 1777, September 1777, May 1778, September 1780) and on Annapolis Royal (1781).[6] There was also a naval engagement with a French fleet at Spanish River, Cape Breton Island (1781).[7]

On 17 November 1775, Washington's Marblehead Regiment aboard the Hancock and Franklin made an unopposed landing at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Three days later, they expedited to Nova Scotia and raided Canso. In 1779, American privateers returned to Canso and destroyed the fisheries, which were worth ₤50,000 a year to Britain.[8]

The 84th Regiment had been defending Nova Scotia, attacking an American privateer ship off of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (1775). The 84th was led by Captain John MacDonald. They boarded the warship when some of its crew were ashore seeking plunder. They captured the crew and sailed her into Halifax.[9] There were also Patriot attacks on Nova Scotia by land, such as the Battle of Fort Cumberland and the Siege of Saint John (1777). There was the constant threat that American Patriots would attack Halifax by land.

The month prior to the Raid on Lunenburg, there was a significant Naval battle off Halifax between an American privateer and a Royal Naval vessel.

Raid on Lunenburg

Part of a series on the
Military history of
Nova Scotia
Citadel hill.jpg
Battle of Port Royal 1690
Conquest of Acadia 1710
Battle of Jeddore Harbour 1722
Northeast Coast Campaign 1745
Battle of Grand Pré 1747
Dartmouth Massacre 1751
Bay of Fundy Campaign 1755
Fall of Louisbourg 1758
Headquarters established for Royal Navy's North American Station 1758
Burying the Hatchet ceremony 1761
Battle of Fort Cumberland 1776
Raid on Lunenburg 1782
Halifax Impressment Riot 1805
Establishment of New Ireland 1812
Capture of USS Chesapeake 1813
Battle at the Great Redan 1855
Siege of Lucknow 1857
CSS Tallahassee Escape 1861
Departing Halifax for Northwest Rebellion 1885
Departing Halifax for the Boer War 1899
Imprisonment of Leon Trotsky 1917
Jewish Legion formed 1917
Sinking of HMHS Llandovery Castle 1918
Battle of the St. Lawrence 1942–44
Sinking of SS Point Pleasant Park 1945
Halifax VE-Day Riot 1945
Walter Callow Wheelchair Bus established 1947
Notable military regiments
Mi'kmaq militias 1677-1779
Acadian militias 1689-1761
40th Regiment 1717-57
Troupes de la marine 1717-58
Gorham's Rangers 1744-62
Danks' Rangers 1756-62
84th Regiment of Foot 1775-84
Royal Fencible American 1775-83
Royal Nova Scotia Volunteers 1775-83
King's Orange Rangers 1776-83
1st Field Artillery 1791-present
Royal Nova Scotia 1793-1802
Nova Scotia Fencibles 1803-16
The Halifax Rifles (RCAC) 1860-present
The Princess Louise Fusiliers 1867-present
78th Highlanders 1869-71
Cape Breton Highlanders 1871-present
Nova Scotia Rifles 1914-19
No. 2 Construction Battalion 1916-19
West Nova Scotia 1916-present
The Nova Scotia Highlanders 1954-present

During the early morning of 1 July 1782, five American privateers, who had left Boston under the command of Captain Noah Stoddard, began to raid Lunenburg. Captain Stoddard’s ship was the schooner Scammel, which had sixteen guns and sixty men.[3][10] Stoddard organized both a land and sea assault of the town. The vessels first landed at Red Head, two miles outside of the town and soldiers began to march toward the town. The vessels then moved toward a frontal assault on the town.

Lt. Governor Hamond

The Lunenburg militia was led by Colonel John Creighton (judge) and Major D. C. Jessen. Colonel Creighton and five other militia men occupied the eastern blockhouse and began firing at the approaching land assault. Several of Captain Stoddard’s privateers were wounded. The landed fleet of privateers then rounded East Point. The vessels landed and quickly took control of the western blockhouse and established themselves at Blockhouse Hill (See image above). Captain Creighton and others in the blockhouse were cannonaded into silence and the blockhouse burned.[11] Colonel Creighton surrendered and was taken prisoner along with two other men aboard Captain Stoddard’s vessel Scammel.[12]

Resistance was also offered by Major D. C. Jessen. He was initially held up in his home, which the privateers fired full of bullets. He escaped and his house was looted. Major Jessen assembled with a militia behind the hill overlooking the town. A militia from La Have under the command of Major Joseph Pernette also advanced toward Lunenburg to join Major Jessen. Captain Stoddard sent a message to Jensen and Pernette that if they advanced on the town, all the homes would be burned. To ensure his threat was not idle, Captain Stoddard burned down Major Jessen’s home.[13]

Captain Stoddard’s privateers looted the town and destroyed what remained. The Reverend Johann Gottlob Schmeisser tried to interfere and was bound by the privateers and placed in the middle of town.[14]

Relief came when Lt. Governor Hamond dispatched from Halifax three ships under the command of Captain Douglass. Captain Stoddard began the retreat. Despite not having received a ransom, Captain Stoddard released Colonel Creighton and the other prisoners after they arrived in Boston.[13]

See also


  1. casualties taken from Boston Gazette, July 15, August 5, 1782 ; Massachusetts Spy, August 8, 1782
  2. Eastman, pp. 61–63
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Gwyn, p. 75
  4. DesBraisay, p. 68
  5. Benjamin Franklin also engaged France in the war, which meant that many of the privateers were also from France.
  6. Roger Marsters (2004). Bold Privateers: Terror, Plunder and Profit on Canada's Atlantic Coast", pp. 87–89 ISBN 0887806449
  7. Thomas B. Akins. (1895) History of Halifax. Dartmouth: Brook House Press, p. 82
  8. Lieutenant Governor Sir Richard Hughes stated in a dispatch to Lord Germaine that "rebel cruisers" made the attack.
  9. Craig, C. (1989). The Young Emigrants: Craigs of the Magaguadavic, p. 53
  10. MacMechan, p. 59
  11. Gwyn, p. 25
  12. MacMechan, pp. 62–63
  13. 13.0 13.1 MacMechan, p. 68
  14. MacMechan, p. 67


Further reading

  • Howe, Octavius Thorndike. Beverly Privateers in the Revolution, 1922, p. 361.
  • Bell, Winthrop Pickard. (1961). The "Foreign Protestants" and the Settlement of Nova Scotia.

External links

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