Commodore Barry, 1812

Dec. 9, 2020

Commodore Barry, 1812

Commodore John Barry is considered by some to be the father of the United States Navy.  He served as an officer of the Continental Navy and commanded the frigate Raleigh. Barry's gallant conduct at the time of her loss in September 1778 ensured that he received further active employment. After a time as captain of a privateer, in 1780 he was given the frigate Alliance, in which he captured three enemy privateers and three Royal Navy warships during 1781-1783. Alliance also carried American diplomats across the Atlantic to France and performed valuable services in the Caribbean area.

Following the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, Barry returned to the merchant service. In 1794 he was appointed the senior Captain of the newly established United States Navy and subsequently was in charge of constructing the large frigate United States. Captain Barry commanded the new ship in the West Indies during the 1798-1801 Quasi-War with France, including a period as Commodore of U.S. Navy forces in the region. He served ashore at Philadelphia for the remainder of his life. Commodore John Barry died there on 13 September 1803.

Cutter History:

The Commodore Barry was a "well fitted" schooner of 98 tons pierced for six guns.  She was purchased at Sag Harbor, New York, and was stationed at Passamaquoddy, Maine.  She was placed under the command of Captain Daniel Elliott.

She, along with the American privateer Madison, were captured along the Maine coastline by boarding parties from  the British vessels Maidstone, Spartan, and Plumper on 3 August 1812 after a "severe contest, in which a number of the English were said to be killed."  (New York Evening Post, August 15, 1812)

The crews of both the cutter and the privateer escaped.  The British destroyed the Madison but apparently utilized the Commodore Barry as a tender but other sources indicate otherwise.  The New York Evening Post of 21 August 1812 noted that "The Revenue Cutter COMMODORE BARRY was left at St. John's Newfoundland, August 9, dismantled."


Donald Canney.  U.S. Coast Guard and Revenue Cutters, 1790-1935.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995.

U.S. Coast Guard.  Record of Movements: Vessels of the United States Coast Guard: 1790 - December 31, 1933.  Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1934; 1989 (reprint).