John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
Raids lay Sea and Land

Almost upon the western wave Rested the broad bright Sun; When that strange shape drove suddenly Betwixt us and the Sun.


I

IT is an odd fact, but one not in itself strange, that John Paul should have chosen Whitehaven as his first landing place in his first descent upon the English coast. From the hill the hunter always returns home; the child yearns to go back to the matrix; and the wisdom of the East declares that life traces itself in circles or spirals; the end, at least in thought, being not far from the beginning.

Whitehaven, opposite the top rim of Ireland, was Jones's home port, the spot where he began his career. It was also just across the bay from the place of his birth. It was the neighborhood in which he had been reared, and where, as a rather queer child, he had been lightly regarded. The fact that the bay was full of enemy shipping, and but scantily fortified, was incidental. In the past "they" had scorned him. He was coming back to damage English shipping and to raid an enemy stronghold, yes; but he was also going to "show them."

The wind was unfavorable, but in the dark hours of April 22 his raiding expedition dropped off the Ranger in two boats and rowed for the sleeping town. He took with him Lieutenant Wallingford, Midshipmen Arthur Green and Charles Hill, and twenty-nine men. It was dawn before he swept down upon the fortification. He surprised the two forts and waked up

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