Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution

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Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina During the American Revolution. By James A. Lewis. (Kent, Ohio, and London: Kent State University Press, c. 1999. Pp. x, 235. $39.00, ISBN 0-87338-632-9.)

For years, readers of naval histories and biographies set during the era of the American War of Independence have encountered brief references to the Dutch-built frigate L'Indien. This formidable vessel was originally expected to sail under the Stars and Stripes, with John Paul Jones, the Scottish-born American commodore, in command. But Jones and his patron Benjamin Franklin, the American minister to France, were forced by straitened American finances to relinquish their claim to the ship. It wound up leased to the state navy of South Carolina and cruised under Commodore Alexander Gillon who, after a somewhat successful voyage in the West Indies, eventually brought the now-renamed South Carolina into Philadelphia for a refit. Gillon was not on board in December 1782 when his command was captured by three British frigates off the Delaware capes while trying to force its way back out to sea. Not until the 1850s was there a resolution between the state of South Carolina and various claimants over financial responsibility for the loss of the ship.

Neptune's Militia, by James A. Lewis of Western Carolina University, is by far the most exhaustively researched and thorough account yet published of Gillon and the South Carolina. …