Hundreds of men fought to the best possible extent for America’s freedom from the British colonial rule. One such great hero of the American Revolution is Abraham Whipple. Whipple, who belonged to Rhode Island, was a revolutionary commander in the Continental Navy. He contributed immensely to the achievement of several milestones in the history of his nation’s revolutionary movement. One of his most incredible achievements was that he destroyed the British ship ‘HMS Gaspee’. This paved way for the Americans to capture the Bahamas. Under his leadership, the American ship ‘Game Cock’ had managed to capture as many as 23 French ships, in a matter of just six months. Whipple was considered to be one of the best naval officers, and America’s greatest freedom fighters. Several ships of the United States Navy have been named USS Whipple in his honor. There is a Whipple Street, Avenue or Court in almost every one of the 39 municipalities in the State of Rhode Island.
Childhood & Early Life
Abraham Whipple was born on September 26, 1733 in Providence, Rhode Island, to Noah Whipple Jr., one of the owners of a plantation. Since he lived in a coastal town, he developed interest in exploring the sea from a very young age.
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Whipple was appointed as the captain of a merchantman. He quickly acquired the knowledge of all tricks of navigation and sailing. Whipple also became a close acquaintance of the ‘Northern Harbors’, a group which helped him in a great way during the revolution.
The year 1772 turned out to be really remarkable for Whipple, who gathered a team of around 50 people from Rhode Island to burn the British ship ‘HMS Gaspee’ during this period. This was claimed to be an important move from America’s behalf to oppose the British oppression.
In 1775, Whipple was appointed the Commodore of two colonial ships by the Rhode Island General Assembly. Whipple directed his troops to capture the ship ‘HMS Rose’.
Whipple was given the responsibility to command the ship ‘Columbus’, which was equipped with 24 guns, in the year 1776. He was also appointed as the captain of the Continental Army during the same year.
In 1778, the ship ‘Providence’ which was commanded by Whipple, tackled British vessels such as ‘HMS Lark’, and managed to cross the Atlantic ocean safely. During this journey ‘Providence’ also managed to acquire guns and other key supplies of war, before reaching motherland.
In 1779, Whipple was handed over a bigger task of managing a fleet of three ships, namely ‘Providence’, ‘Ranger’, and ‘Queen of France’. Under Whipple’s guidance, this fleet battled a British convoy, defeated the opponent naval forces, and captured valuables which were apparently prized over 1 million dollars.
Towards the end of 1779, Whipple battled the British forces at Charleston, South Carolina. His forces succumbed to the overwhelming pressures of the opposition, and ended up being a prisoner of war in the year 1780.
Post his term as a war prisoner, Whipple also led two other vessels by name ‘General Washington’ and ‘St. Clair’.
The period from 1759 to 1760, was one of the most eventful ones of Whipple’s career, where he captured around 26 ships of French origin, as a captain of the ship ‘Game Cock’.
Another event for which Whipple is remembered is the ‘Gaspee Affair’ of 1772. The British customs Schooner ‘HMS Gaspee’, which had enforced unfair trading regulations, was destroyed under Whipple’s leadership.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1761, Abraham Whipple got married to Sarah Hopkins. The couple had three children named John, Catherine, and Mary. Whipple’s daughter Catherine married Ebenezer Sproat, who served as a colonel in the Continental Army.
For his great contribution towards the achievement of American independence, the Congress granted Abraham Whipple monthly pension.
Whipple passed away at the age of 85, at Marietta, Ohio. His body was later buried at the Mound Cemetery, located in the same town.
The United States Navy had named three of their vessels in recognition of Whipple’s services, the names of all these vessels start with ‘USS Whipple’.
In the state of Rhode Island, most of the streets, Avenues and courts have been named after Whipple.
Abraham Whipple has been mentioned in two books. One of them is a horror novel by name ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’, the other being ‘The Shunned House’, which also belonged to the same genre.