HMS Hussar (1763)


HMS Hussar (1763)

HMS "Hussar", a ship built in England in 1763, was part of the British fleet in North America.

During the American Revolution, "Hussar" sailed as a dispatch boat on the North American station. By mid-1779, the British position in New York was precarious as a French army had joined forces with General George Washington's troops north of the city. When Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney took his twenty ships of the line south in November, it was decided that the army's payroll be moved to the anchorage at Gardiners Bay on eastern Long Island. On November 24, 1779, against his pilot's better judgment, "Hussar's" Captain Charles Pole decided to sail from the East River through the treacherous waters of Hell Gate between Manhattan Island and Long Island.

Just before reaching Long Island Sound, "Hussar" was swept onto Pot Rock and began sinking. Pole was unable to run her aground and she sank in 16 fathoms (29 m) of water. The British immediately denied there was any gold aboard the ship, but despite the difficulty of diving in the waters of Hell Gate, reports of $2 to $4 million in gold were the catalyst that prompted many salvage efforts over the next 150 years. This continued even after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "blew the worst features of Hell Gate straight back to hell" with 56,000 pounds (25 t) of dynamite in 1876. "Hussar's" remains, if any survive, are now believed to lie beneath landfill in the Bronx.

References

* Hepper, British Warship Losses.
* Rattray, Perils of the Port of New York.


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