H.M.S. Roebuck was a 44 gun, fifth rate British warship launched in 1774. She was designed by Sir Thomas Slade, designer of Lord Nelson’s famous H.M.S. Victory, to operate in the shallower waters of North America. As shown here she carried 20 18 pound guns on her lower deck and 22 9 pounders on her upper deck.
In early July 1776 the Roebuck along with three other warships, two tenders, and a row galley attempted to relieve the deposed Royal Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, and his supporters and slaves. The former governor and his company were marooned on a fleet of vessels off the shore of St Georges Island in St Mary’s County. By the time the Roebuck reached Lord Dunmore’s party most were dead of disease. Lord Dunmore was rescued and ultimately returned to Great Britain. Meanwhile, short on fresh water, Roebuck and the vessels accompanying her sailed up the Potomac to replenish their supplies. Their destination was Sandy Point in the Nanjemoy area. The Roebuck’s captain, Snape Hammond, decided to harass and annoy the colonial “rebels” by landing at different places along the way.
The ship’s Master’s log contains the following entry for July 21, 1776: “Sunday 21st AM at 4 Weigh’d & made sail at 10 Anchor’d in the Narrows a Little above Cedar Point in 13 ½ fath sent the galley on shore which Brought of[f] three Ferry Boats from Leadars Ferry at 11 Weigh’d But falling Calm Anchor’d with Kedge & Hawser in 13 Fath. Cedar Point SbE ½ a Mile First and latter parts Moderate and fair, P.M at 2 Brot home the Kedge & Let go the Sm Br at 3 Weigh’d and made sail, On information of a number of Rebels being Assembled in a House on the Maryland side, fir’d several 18 Pds at it, at 8 Brot Maryland Point NNE ½ Mile at 10. Anchor’d in 4 Fath Smith Point East ¾ of a mile.” Oil on canvas 36x24 inches