Vengeance Is Mine


While researching my wife’s side of the family to gather the data needed for her Daughters of the American Revolution application, I came across her 6th great-grandfather, Benjamin Conner, who served aboard the armed Privateer called the Vengeance.

Owned by private individuals, it was commissioned by the colonies to set sail against the British. Under the command of Captain Wingate Newman, Conner served as a lieutenant in 1778 and 1779. Records show that on September 17, 1778, after being at sea for several weeks, they engaged and captured the British packet ship Harriot with its 16 guns and 45 men. Three days later, they faced the British packet ship Eagle and after intense fighting of 20 minutes, were again victorious, capturing its 12 guns and 43 men including 7 field officers and several others of inferior rank.

From there, seeing as they were so far eastward and the ship now had more prisoners aboard than crew, the decision was made to head for the first port they could reach in either France or Spain. On Sept 29, they anchored in La Coruna where they were able to exchange their 87 prisoners for an equal number of Americans of similar rank.

The Vengeance continued its patrol for another couple of months, sailing off the coast of Spain and Portugal and while they did have some skirmishes and captured other “prizes,” none were as valuable.

The Vengeance returned to the states in late April 1779 and Lieutenant Connor, now Captain Conner, settled in Washington City. The ship, now with a new crew, took part in a failed mission to drive the British from a newly established military outpost in Penobscot, Maine. On August 17, 1779, the ship was destroyed in the Penobscot River by order of the Commodore to avoid it being captured by the enemy.

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