Capt. Samuel Smedley

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Capt. Samuel Smedley

Birthplace: Fairfield, Fairfield, Ct, United States
Death: June 13, 1812 (59)
Fairfield, Fairfield, Ct, United States
Place of Burial: Fairfield, Fairfield, Ct, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Col. James Smedley and Mary Smedley
Husband of Esther Smedley
Half brother of Ebenezer Dimon; Abigail Sturges; Deborah Dimon; Mary Dimon; William D. Dimon and 8 others

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Immediate Family

About Capt. Samuel Smedley


PREFACE For what I have been able to discover in compiling this bit of Naval history pertaining to early beginnings toward the pro-tection of Connecticut from 1775 to 1783, I am indebted to the courtesies of' our Congressional Library, the Connecticut State Library where the priceless Trumbull papers repose, the Connec-ticut Historical Society where so many valuable treasures are preserved, to the Town Clerk of Fairfield, Connecticut, to Thomas B. Osborne Esqr. of New Haven, and to the Librarian of the British Admiralty in London. And I desire to return my grateful acknowledgment and appreciation to them for their combined assistance. When the Defence first went into commission at New Haven in February, 1776 as a Brig, her complement of commissioned officers was as follows: * Captain Setli Harding of Norwich First Lieutenant Ebenezer Bartram of Fairfield Second Lieutenant Samuel Smedley of Fairfield Third Lieutenant Henry Billings of Norwich Lieut, of Marines Joseph Squire of Fairfield . Master Josiah Burnham of Lyme First Mate Edward Beebe of Stratford Second Mate Jesse Jeacocks of New London Surgeon Dr. Ezra Bushnell of New Haven *(From first recorded Pay-Roll) Note:.— Samuel Bartram is recorded as having been appointed Second Lieutenant, John McCleave of New Haven as Master, and James Hopkins of Middletown as Third Lieutenant. They evidently declined or resigned, as I find no Pay-Roll bearing their names. L. F. M. 4 EXPLOITS OF °THE There were some changes in the commissioned personnel how-ever before the end of the year. Ebenezer Bartram was retired bec'ause of infirmity, and Samuel Smedley was promoted to First Lieutenant. Josiah Burnham resigned as Master. Henry Bil-lings resigned to take command of a Privateer brig. Captain Harding himself, being in ill health, resigned his command and made request that Smedley be appointed as Captain; and Ezra Bushnell resigned as Surgeon, his berth being temporarily taken by Dr. Gideon Wells. So that the personnel of the officers of the brig for the next cruise in the spring of 1777 was as follows: Captain Samuel Smedley of Fairfield First Lieutenant James Angel of New London Second Lieutenant Jonathan Leeds of New London Lieut, of Marines Joseph Squire of Fairfield Master Edward Beebe of Stratforcl First Mate Jesse Jeacocks of New London Second Mate Caleb Dyer of Stratford Surgeon Dr. Benjamin Ellis Midshipman Joseph Pease Midshipman John Lewis Midshipman Jonathan Alden Midshipman George Newcombe In the early part of 1778 when the Defence was lengthened and made into a ship, the officers personnel again changed, according to documentary evidence discovered, but apparently nowhere else recorded. Second Lieutenant Jonathan Leeds died in May, and was succeeded by Edward Beebe. Jesse Jeacocks was appointed Master in Beebe's place; Caleb Dyer promoted First Mate; Joseph Pease Second Mate; Joseph Squire promoted and com-missioned Captain of Marines; while John Lewis, Jonathan Alden and George Newcombe remained as Midshipmen, Dr. Benjamin Ellis as Surgeon, and Dr. Nehemiah Whiting was added as Surgeon's Mate. In addition to her battery of sixteen carriage 6-pounder guns, the Defence carried some swivels, nearly 100 muskets, 59 CONNECTICUT SHIP " DEFENCE " 13 pistols, 51 cutlasses, 11 blunderbus " murtherers," and two board-ing grappling irons. She carried two barges and one yawl. During her three year career she captured twelve prizes, viz May 20, 1776, ' sloop " Life-Guard " June 20, 1776, ship "Lord Howe" June 20, 1776, ship " George " June 20, 1776, brig "Annabelle " July 1, 1776, brig "John " Mar. 12, 1777, bark " Lydia " Mar. 16, 1777, sch. " Anna " Mar. 20, 1777, brig " Grog " Apr. 20,-1777, snow " Swift" , Apr. 20, 1778, ship " Cyrus " June 21, 1778, sloop " Tonyns Revenge June 21, 1778, sloop " Ranger " and took prisoners aggregating over six hundred. Louis F. Middlebrook

Hartford,Ct ( March 1922 )

 HISTORICAL,   evidence   pertaining   to   the   actual    naval    activities  of   the  United  Colonies  of  America  during  the  Revolutionary  War  from  1775  to  1783,  has  been  for  the  most  part  confined  to  quite  meagre  and  scattered  references  in  public  records —  such  as  they  were —in   each  colony  or  state,  usually  appearing  in  a brief  incomplete  paragraph  here  and  there,  merely   as   a   record,   and   without   much   detailed   elaboration.   Analyses  of  circumstances  as  reasons  for  the  adoption  of  a  given  course  to  pursue,  seldom  appeared  as public  record  in  those  days,  attributable  perhaps  to  a  sense  of  discretion  necessary! to  recog-nize  considering  the  stress  of   the  times  and  the  moderate  per-centage   of   Royalist   feeling   among   some   of    the   inhabitants.   Caution   was   presumably   more   emphatic   relating   to   maritime   matters  than to  the preparations  and  plans  for  military  protection  on  land,  because  a  naval  plan  was  necessarily  of  a  more  stealth}'  nature  if  successful  cruises  were  to  be  made  against  the  Power  that  ruled  the  waves,  than  the  order  of   tilings  ashore.    In  fact  there  appears  to  have  been  a  reliance  upon  our  privateers  and  other  state  or  colony  craft,  as  a  matter  of   secret  concern,  for  supplying  a  large  part  of   the  various  commodities  required  by  the  forces  ashore,  resulting  from  the  capturing  of  British  prizes.  So  that , in    order  to  find  out  why  and  how  things  were  done,  the  old  pen-written  manuscript  is  about  the  only  thing  left  to  cull  from —  if   its  existence  can  be  determined  and  made  available.  We  must  remember  that it    was  a  constant  hazard  to  trust  written  evidence  of   plans  between  principals  in  strategy,  and   personal   conferences  were  considered  more  satisfactory  and  safer •—and this   course   was   largely   pursued,   especially   concerning   naval   matters.    Then  again  a  large  percentage  of   the  marine  orders,  programs  of  campaign,  journals  of  events,  and  log-books  giving  the  recorded   details  of   what  happened   on  ship  board,  has  by  force  of   circumstances  either  become  a  part  of  the  elements  of  the  deep  by  deliberate  destruction  to  avoid  capture,  or  by  ship-wreck,  or  by  the  combat  itself.    Some  of  it doubtless  reposes  in  private  collections  as  curiosities.    Some  of   it  is  unquestionably   8 EXPLOITS   OF °THE preserved  in  a  wooden  trunk,  in  a  wooden  garret,  tied  up  with  a  mouldy   cotton   string  and  used   as  rat  fodder   and  food   for   hungry  squirrels.    Perhaps  some  of   it  rests  yet,  in  the  secret  archives  of   foreign  governments  and  even  municipalities  of   the   seaboard  shires  of   Britain,  kept  as  a  portion  of   the  spoils  of  maritime   adventure —- but  very   seldom   is  any  of   it   found   as   public  documents,  because  what  happened  in  naval  warfare  in  those  days  was  without  doubt  much  more  inhuman  than  land  warfare,  and  each  unit  of  a  ship's  company  knew  the  inevitable  "  sink or  swim,  live  or  die,  survive  or  perish "  doctrine  pervading  the voluntary  calling he  had  chosen, .or was  forced  into  choosing;  and  a record  of  tilings  might  not  be  really  a  comfortable  kind  of  public  document  to  keep  for  public  gaze.    Some  of.  these  inter-esting  documents  however,  have  by  fortune  been  brought  ashore  after.the  various  hardships  and  uses  incident  to  the  dampness  and  deterioration  to  which  the}- have  been  subjected  by  constant  exposure  to  the  salt  air,  and  have  since  been  more  carefully  and  properly  protected  in  our  different  institutions  and  have  received  the  expert  care  such  historic  papers  deserve.    To  undertake  at  tliis  time  an  assembly  of   the  exploits  of   our  daring  seamen  of  the  American   Revolutionary  War   requires   a  more  than  usual  careful   and   systematic   search   which   one   clue   presents   for   leading  up  to  another.    The   families  involved  oftentimes  very  pleasingly  reinforce  traditions  which  one  may  unearth,  with  a  budget  of   real  warm,  living,  manuscript   letters  that  form   the   truest  and  most  amazing  evidence   that  one  .may  ever  hope   to   expect.    This  method  of  collecting  history  does  not  apply  to  the  military  and  civil  historian  quite  so  much,  because  his  range  of  research  is  made  easier  by  reason  of  the  ready  reference  to  the  naturally  preserved  state  papers,  laws  and  forms  on  file,  made  necessary  for  the  sake of  homogeneity  military-wise,  and  because  there  were  so  many  more  men  and  different  land  organizations  established  and  to  account  for  and  to  deal  with,  as   compared   with  a  relatively  small  outfit  as  represented  by  the  complement  of     an  armed   craft  of   the  .Revolutionary   War   period.     These     small  complements  called  crews,  were  each  as  a  rule  subject  to  but  one  source  of   command,  called  a  captain,  and  he  in  turn  did  not  seem  to  be  subservient  to  anyone  else  but  himself,  unless   CONNECTICUT   SHIP    "  DEFENCE   "   9 he  took  a  notion  now  and  then  to  report  to  the  governor  of   his   own  state —  and  nothing  intervening.   Hence  it  will  be  observed  that  what  happened  at  sea  was  more  told  than  written  and  many  things  were  not  told.    Verbal  reports  by  a  naval  captain  when  he    happened  to  come  home,  instead  of  the  written  labored  forms  employed  by  the  army,  were  oftentimes  the  only  ones  made.  The  reason  I  do  not  attempt  to  formulate  a  general  cruise,  and   launch   out   in   a   wholesale   way   about'  more   than   one   Connecticut  Naval  Officer  arid  Ship  of  the  Revolutionary  period,  is   not  because  I  have  not  accumulated  data  pertaining  to  many  of    them,  but because  of  a  natural  affection  for  Hie  neighborhood  of    my  birth  in  the  southern  part  of   the  state.    One   naturally   tends  toward  the  home  town  first  I  think  to  acquire  ljistory,  so  when  one  begins  to  look  up  the  life  and  service  of   a  man  like  Captain  Samuel  Smedley  of   Fairfield,  Connecticut  and  finds  a  real   primary   attraction,   one   cannot   wait   to   investigate   and   analyze  the  rest  of  his  life  during  a  period  when  excitement  was  intense  and  patriotic  feeling  at  the  boiling  point,  especially  with  a  British  army  encamped  directly  across  the  Sound,  and  a  British  fleet  trying  to  control  either  end  of  it  and  harrass  the  inhabitants  of     Connecticut  by  plundering   cattle,  sheep,  horses  and  homes,  and  occasionally  taking  hostages  across  for  ransom.  The  boy  had  been  brought  up  locally  and  probably  absorbed  his   nautical  knowledge   from   those  with  whom   he   associated,   including   no   doubt   Captain   Ebenezer   Bartram,   who   became   Executive   Officer   of    the   Defence,     and   who   perhaps   taught   Smedley  how  to  find  latitude,  do  plain  sailing,  and  who  more  than  likely,  trained  him  in   the  arts  of   seamanship.     Gunnery     was  no  particular  accomplishment  in  those  days,  for  most  guns  were of  cast iron  and were  of  the 4-pounder or  6-pounder  variety  —  smooth  bore  and  of  hardly  more  than  pistol-shop  capacity  so  far  as  doing  serious  injury  was  concerned.    The  crude,  though  fairly   reliable  Davis  "hog-yoke"   quadrant  was   the   universal   instrument  for   determining  position   at  sea  if   the  sun   shined.   The   pocket   dial   and   compass   was   the   commonest   and   near-enough   instrument   for   determining   time   of   day,   if   the   sun   shined.    The  expensive  English  bulls-eye  watch  was  a  veritable  thing  of  precision  and  while  envied  by  some,  was  out  of   reach    10 EXPLOITS   OF °THE by  many,  although  Captain  Smedley  did  have,  according  to  his  Will,  one  of  these  gold  watches.    The  sand  glass,  or  cinnamon  glass  was  good  enough  for  anybody  provided  he  did  not  forget  to   turn  it  when  the  last  grain  ran  through.    These  were  Usually  made  to  run  a  half  hour.    That  was  the  official  "  one  glass "  at  sea,  and  that  is  why, time  is  today  measured  in  half   hours  at  sea,  by  bells.    Longitude  was  hard  to  get.    Dead  reckoning  by  the  reel  and  log-line,  and  by  the  use  of   the  lead  line  to  find  the  depth  of   water,  was  easier.     Greenwich  time  and  a  chro-nometer  to  keep  it   (under   the  captain's  pillow)   was  a  luxury  too  fancy  to  even  hope  for.    Charts,  buoys,  and  even  lighthouses  were  in  their  infancy,  and  unreliable,  and  a  sailor's  instinct  and  ability  was  about  the  only  real  dependence  to hang  to  on  a  cruise.  The   natural-born   intuition   about   tides,   winds,   currents   and   storms,  combined  .with  an  elementary  knowledge  of   navigation,   a  table  of  the  Sun's  declination,  the  qualifications  for  command,  a  Yankee  idea  or  two  about  barter  and  trade,  a  piece  of   chalk   and  a  pine  board,  not  to  forget  a  fairly  good  pair  of   flint-lock   pistols   and   a   short   ready   side-arm   called   a   cutlass,   usually   completed   the  general  complexion   of   a  sea-captain's   needs   of   the  period.    They  were  generally  stalwart,  hardy,   fair-minded   though  stern,  daring  in  the  extreme,  and  exceptionally   capable   men.    They  had  to  be.    And   I  have  no  doubt  whatever,  that  many  of   them  possessed   an  individual   standard   for   emphatic   verbal  expression  which  may  not  have  been  devoted  particularly  to    any  specific  sanctity.    It  was  perhaps  a  sort  of  almost  legiti-mized  though  unconsecrated  flow  of  biblical  terms  without  any  peculiar   degree  of   reverence—-interspersed   with   an  unbroken  demonstration  of  rather  positive  lingual  pollution,  which  seemed  to    inspire  a  sailor  with  a  desire  for  a  sudden   and  substantial  obedience.     There   was   no   diplomatic   appeal   or   rendition   of   bucolic  poetry  about  it.    In  short,  there  was  nothing  left' to  the  imagination   for   the   immediate   voluntary   action   of    anybody    within  ear-shot  of  his  trumpet.   To  those  recently  enlisted  land-lubbers  who  had  their  initiation  to  such  a  brisk  unsocial  inter-change  of  direct  remarks,  there  was  no  cause  for  doubt  in  their  minds  as  to  what  was  wanted  of   them,  when  it  was  necessary  to   attract   their  attention,  without  delay;   and   a  ship  in  those  28 EXPLOITS   OF °THE March  17th,  1779.  Court of  Inquiry of  Capt.  Smedley,  Dr.  To  4  bottles  of  wine           .         .'        .        £   8.    9.    0    To  2  other  bottles      .                   .         .            4.    4..   0   To   IS  bowls  of   punch       .         .         .           27.    0.    0    To  16  dinners                                                          4.  10.    0    £44.    2,    0    errors  excepted  Pr  Nathan  Douglas  Timothy   Parker   \ Wreck   of   "Defence"'      March  10,   1779   There  is  no  evidence  as  to  who  partook  of   this  sorrowful  repast   but   it   is   safe   to   say   that   Captain   Harding,   Captain   Timothy   Parker,   Captain   Samuel   Smedley,   Lieutenant   James    CONNECTICUT   SHIP    "  DEFENCE   "   29 Angel,  Captain Lloyd  of  the Continental  detachment,  and  perhaps  Nathaniel   Shaw,   then   Naval   Agent   for   the   port   of    New    London  were  present.  By  the nature of  the circumstances  surrounding  this  unhappy  episode  of  losing  his  ship,  Captain  Smedley  as  the  saying  is,  in  nautical  parlance,  was  necessarily  "  put  on  the  beach "  —  went  home  to  Fairfield  and  once  more  applied  himself  to  agricultural  pursuits   on   the   farm —  until   offered   the   command   of    the    Guilford,   another   state  war  vessel,  by   Governor   Trumbull   in   June.    This  he  declined,  as  he  had  evidently  made  up  his  mind  to   remain  quiet  for  awhile  at  least,  or  perhaps  until  he  could  satisfactorily  arrange  a  bargain  for  a  Letter  of   Marque  of   his   own.    While  thus  engaged  at  home,  the  British  General  Tryon  had  been  formulating  his  concerted  drive  from  the  Sound  and  from  Long  Island,  and  landed  on  Fairfield  Beach  with  a  large  force  of   Hessians  and  proceeded   at  once  to  burn  the  town  in  the  early  part  of   July,  1779.    On  July  2nd  a  letter  appears  on  file   addressed   to   Gov.   Trumbull    signed   by   Samuel    Squire,    Jonathan  Sturges  and  Thaddeus  Burr  of   Fairfield,  stating  that  Capt.  Smedley  was  in  command  of  a  field  piece  (cannon)   with   which  he  successfully  hulled  an  enemy  ship  after  a raid  had  been  made  by  an  enemy  party  from  Long  Island.   Among  the  estates  burned  was  that  of  Captain  Samuel  Smedley  including  a  loss  of  two  houses,  a barn,  shop,  furniture  and  clothing,  provisions,  etc.,  estimated  at  £  795, for  which  the  state  authorized  reimbursement  by    Act  of   the  General  Assembly   in  October,   1780,  of    £437.    based  on  the  assessed  valuation  of  1774.  To  say  that  many  of  the  families  of  Fairfield  were  in  dire  straits  by  reason  of  this  wanton  destruction  by  fire  at  the  hands  of     Tryon's  men,  is  putting  it  mildly.    Many  of   them  literally  had  to  camp  out.   Some, of     them  fled  inland  toward  what  is  now  Trumbull  and  Easton,  five  or  six  miles  north,  and  were  taken  in  bodily  by  friends  and  neighbors  until  they  could  make  plans  for  rebuilding  their  homes.     General   Gold   Sellick   Silliman's   wife   and  family  were  thus  sheltered  in  North  Stratford,  while  he  was  a  captive  on  Long  Island  and  his  home  destroyed.    Undaunted    by   these   reverses,   burnt   out   of    house   and   home,    Captain    Smedley,  then  but  twenty-six  years  old  rebuilt  his  home,  which,   30 EXPLOITS   OF °THE although  altered  and  modernized,  now  stands  on  the  corner,  at  the  end  of  Fairfield  Main  Street  below  the  Town  Hall   Green,   on  the  right  as you  turn  on  the  Boston  Post  Road  on  the way  to  New  York.    His  father-in-law,  David  Rowland  lived  across  the  street,  and   this  was  where.  Smedley's   family   practically   lived   during  his long  absences  at  sea.   On  the  corner  next  to  the  fence  enclosing  the  Smedley  place  is  a  large  stone  with  the  following  inscription   cut   upon   it: — "By   David   Barlow,   the   Cidevant   Farmer  1791."    The  meaning  of  this  inscription  is  explained  —  that   during   the   French   Revolution   of    1789   aristocrats   were   called  "  Cidevants."    Evidently  the  stone  was  planted  by  Barlow  to    protect   Smedley's   fence,   and. perhaps   later   inscribed   by   Smedley  when- he  returned  home.    To   show   the  spirit  of   tire   inhabitants  of  Fairfield when Tryon  landed,  set  fire  to  the  village,  and  sent  a  flag  of  truce  to  the  commandant  of  militia,  while  his  Hessians  were  burning  the  town,  the  following  reply  is  found  on  file,  and  is  of  important  interest.—  "  Connecticut   having  nobly   dared  to  take  up  arms  against  the   mad   despotism   of   Britain,   and   as   the   flames   have    now    preceded   the  answer  to  your  flag,  they  will  persist  to   oppose   to   their  utmost,  the  power   excited   against  injured    innocence."    Signed  by  Samuel  Whiting,   Colonel   commandant.   To  Major   General   Tryon   Fairfield.   July  7th  1779.  The  same  tiling  happened  behind  the  stone  wall  fences  in  Fairfield  that  happened  in  Concord.    The  men,  women  and  boys  retreated  to  ambush  and  with  their  muskets  did  what  they  could  to   the  Hessians,  fell  back  to  Mill  Plain,  Greenfield  Hill  and  on.  the  west,  to  Saugatuck,  and  got  ready  for  the  enemy  the  best  they could.   The  whole  country  was  alarmed  and  began to  swarm  in   from  all  sides,  finally  compelling  the  enemy  to  retreat  to  their  ships  and  sail  away.  -Soon  after  the  burning  of  Fairfield,  Smedley  began  to  lay  his  plans  for  Privateering  against  the  British  again,  and  finally  succeeded  in  arranging  with  Joseph  Williams  of  Norwich,  John  Grinnell  of  Fairfield,  and  Gurdon  Saltonstall  of  New  London  for  the  command  and  part  ownership  of  a practically  new  ship  which   CONNECTICUT   SHIP    "  DEFENCE   "   31 he    called  the  Recovery   and  proceeded  to  fit  her  out  at New  Lon-don  for  a  cruise  on  his  own  account —  secured  his  commission  from   Congress   as  Master,   and  Letter   of   Marque,   giving   the   United  States  a  Bond  of  $20,000  for  good  behavior,  etc.    This    bond  was   signed  by   Joseph  Williams   and  John   Grinnell   and   witnessed  by  Gurdon  Saltonstall  and  David  Manwaring  (Vol-.  12.  page  103  No.  196  C.  C.)    The  Recovery    was  a  ship  about  the  same size as the Defence   and mounted  16 carriage guns.    Smedley    manned  the  Recovery   with  a Fairfield  crew,  and  with  boys  whose  homes  had  been  burned  and  pillaged  by  order  of  General  Tryon  and who  could  not  wait  to  get  an  opportunity  of  vengeance.    The    full  complement  of   120  men  was  obtained  and  ready  to  weigh  anchor  in  January,  1780/  but  because  of   New  London   harbor   being  frozen,  he  was  unable  to  get  out  into  the  Sound  and  away  to    the   ocean   before   February   18th,   1780   when   he   took   his   departure.    His  cruise  was  of  but  short  duration  however,  for  he   was overpowered off  Newfoundland  in Lat.  60 N. Long.  43  W.  (according  to  a  letter  on  file  from   Capt.  Daniel  Scovel   dated   March   20th,—)   by   one   of   Arbuthnot's   British   frigates,   the   Galatea  Captain  Rice,  and  a  British  cutter.    The  chase  was  of  seven hours  duration before he was  overhauled  and taken prisoner with   all  his  men,   and   brought   back   to   New  York   where   he   arrived  March  31st  and  was  placed  on  a  Prison  Ship.    Arrange-ments  were  made  April  25th,  1780  between  Governor  Trumbull  and  Jabez  Bowen  of   Providence,  for  Smedley's   exchange   for   Lieutenant  Locke  of  the  British  Navy,  and  in  a  letter  dated  May  11,  1780  from  David  Sproat,  British  Commissary  of   Prisoners   at    New  York  to  Major  William  Ledyard   of   New  London,  it  appears  that  Smedley  was  exchanged  according  to  this  arrange-ment;  and  we  again  find  him  in  New  London,  still  young,  per-sistent,  and  with  blood  in  his  eye,  looking  for  another  Privateer , to   fit  out  against  his  adversaries.    Here  he  again  succeeded,  and  arranged  for  part  ownership  with  Joseph  Howland  and  Thomas  Coit  of   Norwich,  in  another  vessel  called  the  Hibernia   which   mounted  10 carriage  guns —  and  gathering  his  crew,  he  again  set  sail  from  New  London  on  October  10th,  1780.    Ill  fortune  again  thwarted  him,  for  he  was  captured  on  the  high  seas  after  being  only  fourteen  days  out  and  taken  back  to  New  York,  and,  by   32 EXPLOITS   OF °THE order  of  Admiral  Rodney,  was  shipped  as  a  naval  prisoner  of  war,  in  March,   1781  to  Old  Mill  Prison,  Plymouth,   England,   where  he  remained  for  some  time,  notwithstanding  Peace  nego-tiations  had  practically  terminated  hostilities.    It  is  interesting  to   remember  however  that  this young  son  of  Connecticut  was  but  twenty-eight  years  old,  and  still  physically  able  to  take  care-of  himself  evidently,  for  the  records  of  Old  Mill  Prison  tell  us  that  Samuel  Smedley  of  Connecticut  escaped,  whereabouts  unknown.  By  a persistent  search  of  about  every  known  source  of  supply  of  official  and  unofficial  records,  I  recently  had  the  good  fortune  to  accidently   stumble  upon  one  of   Robert  Livingston's   letters  to  John  Jay,  then  Secretary  of   State  under  Washington,  in  which  he  mentioned  that  Captain  Smedley  had  just  arrived  in  Phila-delphia   (September-  12th,  1782)  from  Holland  in  command  of  the  chartered  ship  Heer   Adams,   with   a  large  consignment   of   military  and  naval  stores  purchased  in  Holland  by  Commodore  Gillon,  of  the  Frigate  South  Carolina  for  the  use  of  the  United-States  during  the  war —  and  I  find  from  a  private  source,  viz:  Mr.  Thomas  B.  Osborne  of  New  Hayen,  Connecticut,  a  minia-ture  of   Captain   Smedley,   in  uniform,  painted   evidently  while  he  was  in  Holland,  a  refugee  from  British  tyranny.  Captain  Smedley  returned  to  his  native  town  in  Fairfield,  and  continued  in  the  service  of  his  country,  by  appointment  as  _  Collector  of  Customs  for  the District  of  Fairfield,  until  his  death  June  13th, 1812.   Fairfield was  then  a port  of  entry, until  changed  to   Bridgeport.   The  custom house  at one  time was  kept  on  Green-field   Hill   in   the  house  now   occupied   by   the   descendants   of   Barzilla  Banks.    Afterwards,  it  was  in  a  building  in  Bridgeport  west  of  Park  Avenue,  formerly  Division  street, where  that  street  separated  Fairfield  from  Bridgeport.  The   exploits   of   Captain   Smedley   and   his   ship     Defence     during  the  Revolutionary  War  brought  into  the  coffers  of   the   colonies,  the  Continental   establishment,  and  to  Connecticut,  by  its twelve prizes, the equivalent,  as near  as it   can be  conservatively  approximated  by  review  of  accounts,  inventories,  etc.  on  file,  of  $500,000. —  Avhich  for  a  three  years'  life  of  a  ship  less  than  one  hundred  feet  long,  manned  by  various  Connecticut  men  and  boys  aggregating  not  in  excess  of   350  first  and  last,  is  more  to  its   CONNECTICUT   SHIP    "  DEFENCE   "   33 credit  than  any  other  vessel  of  like  tonnage,  that  I  have  found,  in   service  during  the War  of  the  American  Revolution.  In    the old  cemetery  on  the west  side of  the Beach Road,  near  the  Sound,  in  Fairfield,  you  will  find  a  simple  gray  head  stone  bearing  these  words —  and  nothing  more:—  "  Samuel  Smedley  Esqr.  late  Collector  of   Customs   for  the District of  Fairfield.  Died  June  13,  1812.  Aged  59  "  ? "Nothing    but  Waves   we  view  in  Sea  where  ships  do  float  "And   danger  lie,  huge  whales,  and  fishes  play  "Above    our   heads,   heaven's   starred-embroidered     coat     "  Whose   vault  contains  two  eyes,  for   Night  and  Day  "Far    from   the  Main   on  any  Marine   Coast   "  Twixt   Borean   Blast  and  Billows   we  are   tossed.
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Capt. Samuel Smedley's Timeline

March 5, 1753
Fairfield, Fairfield, Ct, United States
June 13, 1812
Age 59
Fairfield, Fairfield, Ct, United States
Old Burying Ground, Fairfield, Fairfield, Ct, United States