William Pickles – Continental Navy Officer


William Pickles (d. September 9, 1783) was an officer of the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War.

Commissioned on October 10, 1776, he was active on the Gulf Coast. He was given command of the {USS|Morris|1778}, a British ship that had been captured on the Mississippi River, in 1779, but she was destroyed by a hurricane. He was then given another ship, also called Morris, by Bernardo de Gálvez, the governor of Spanish Louisiana, to deal with British military shipping on Lake Pontchartrain. In September 1779 he captured a British ship. He then took over command of the prize, the West Florida, with instructions from Oliver Pollock, Congress’ agent in New Orleans, to assist Gálvez in a planned expedition to capture the West Florida port of Mobile. Following that successful expedition, he sailed on to Philadelphia, where the West Florida was sold. He was then given command of {USS|Mercury|1776|2}, and charged with transporting Henry Laurens to the Dutch Republic on a diplomatic mission. The ship was captured off the coast of Newfoundland, and Pickles and Laurens were imprisoned in London. After his release, he returned to Philadelphia. He died there on September 9, 1783, after being assaulted by a gang of Italian sailors.

The prosecution of his murderers was complicated by a legal question: whether statutes previously enacted by the British Parliament were still in force in the now independent state of Pennsylvania. Two of the sailors were sentenced on October 8, 1783, to hang ten days later.


Source(s): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Pickles_(American_Revolution)