On August 5, 1780, Joshua Huddy received a privateer’s commission. Though best known for his exploits on land, Huddy also supported the revolutionary cause on water, attacking and seizing British ships both to hamper enemy operations and to earn the great sums of prize money awarded in exchange for the seized property. In his privateer’s commission, the Continental Congress authorized Huddy to “set forth…in a war-like manner” against the British in “the Armed boat called Black Snake.” Weighing in at a mere ten tons, with a single swivel gun (see picture) and 14-man crew, the Black Snake was far below average size for an American privateering vessel, some of which could be as heavy as 500 tons, carry as many as 20 guns, and employ crews of 100 or more. How much success Huddy had with his “armed boat” is unknown; admiralty court records from the period, which would indicate his earnings, no longer exist. But his willingness to go up against the world’s greatest naval power with a single swivel gun speaks to his Patriot passion – or perhaps his foolhardy character.
Saretzky, Gary D. (2004). THE JOSHUA HUDDY ERA: Documents of the American Revolution. Catalog of the Exhibition at Monmouth County Library Headquarters, Manalapan, N.J. October, 2004; Revised November 2004. Produced by the Monmouth County Archives. Available: https://www.monmouthcountyclerk.com/archives/events-exhibits/2004-documents-of-the-american-revolution-joshua-huddy-era/
Photo of Revolutionary War-era swivel gun: © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).