Commodore Abraham Whipple (1733-1819)

Commodore Abraham Whipple

Commodore Abraham Whipple, namesake of the USS WHIPPLE (FF 1062), is noted for his distinguished record in the Revolutionary War. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island and went to sea as a youth. While still a young man, he was appointed Captain of a merchant vessel engaged in the West Indies trade.

He commanded the privateer GAMECOCK during the French and Indian War, capturing 23 French ships. In June 1772 tensions between Britain and the colonies having increased, he led a group of 61 Rhode Islanders in capturing the British schooner GASPEE, stationed in Narragansett Bay to enforce the Stamp Act. This was one of the first overt acts against Great Britain.

When in 1775 Rhode Island fitted out two ships for defense of trade, WHIPPLE was appointed Commodore of the little fleet. In June he captured the tender of the British ship ROSE, thus firing the first naval gun of the Revolution.

Whipple was commissioned Captain in the Continental Navy in December 1772 and given command of the 24-gun ship COLUMBUS, which he held until his ship was forced ashore in March 1778.

He then took command of the 28-gun frigate PROVIDENCE, running the British blockade on 30 April 1778. He proceeded to France to procure guns and supplies to arm new Continental ships. On return, Whipple was appointed Commodore of a three ship squadron. In July 1779 he fell in with a large merchant fleet in the fog, capturing eleven prizes, one of the largest captures of the War.

Whipple was captured at the fall of Charleston in May 1780, but was paroled to Chester, Pennsylvania. At the close of the war, he farmed near Cranston, Rhode Island, taking time for one voyage as Master of a merchantman.

With the formation of the Ohio Company, Whipple emigrated to the vicinity of Marietta, Ohio. In 1801 he took the first square-rigged ship built on the Ohio, the ST. CLAIR, to the sea.

Commodore Whipple died in Ohio on 27 May 1819. On a monument erected to his memory can be read the following:

to the memory of
Commodore Abraham Whipple
whose naval skill and courage
will over remain the pride and
boast of his country.
In the Revolution, he was the
first on the Sea to hurl defiance
at proud Britain.

Gallantly leading the way to
wrest from the Mistress of
the Ocean her scepter and
there to wave the Star-Spangled
He also conducted to the Sea
the first square rigged vessel
built on the Ohio, opening to
commerce resources
beyond calculation.

© 1999 George Carroll Whipple, III. All rights reserved.