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Humpday History Highlight

By Wyatt Earp | September 23, 2009

Bonhomme Richard and Serapis

September 23, 1779 – John Paul Jones Victorious

In August 1779, Jones took command of the Bonhomme Richard and sailed around the British Isles. On September 23, the Bonhomme Richard engaged the Serapis and the smaller Countess of Scarborough, which were escorting the Baltic merchant fleet. After inflicting considerable damage to the Bonhomme Richard, Richard Pearson, the captain of the Serapis, asked Jones if he had struck his colors, the naval signal indicating surrender. From his disabled ship, Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight,” and after three more hours of furious fighting it was the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough that surrendered. After the victory, the Americans transferred to the Serapis from the Bonhomme Richard, which sank the following day.

Jones continued to serve the United States until 1787 and then served briefly in the Russian navy before moving to France, where he died in 1792 amidst the chaos of the French Revolution. He was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1905, his remains were located under the direction of the U.S. ambassador to France and then escorted back to the United States by U.S. warships. His body was later enshrined in a crypt at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. (H/

I chose this event because it was a remarkable naval battle, but also because I have been to Jones’ crypt twice. It’s an amazing sight.

Topics: HHH | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Humpday History Highlight”

  1. dragonlady Says:
    September 23rd, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    That’s pretty wild. I had no idea that’s where he died.

  2. Mike47 Says:
    September 24th, 2009 at 11:31 am

    “It’s an amazing sight.” Is that a cryptic comment?