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John Paul Jones
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Naval Orientation - Military manual for administrative purposes
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War with France
portrayed many of the traits a nation commonly attributes to a great leader. This  sailor  of  fortune  was  born  in  Scotland in  1747.  As  a  youth  he  served  several  years as a midshipman in the Royal Navy and studied both  seamanship  and  English  by  the  forecastle lamp.  His  concept  of  what  an  American  naval officer  should  be  is  evident  in  his  statement, “None  other  than  a  gentleman  as  well  as  a seaman  both  in  theory  and  practice  is  qualified to support the character of a commissioned officer in the Navy nor is any man fit to command a ship of war who is not also capable of communicating his  ideas  on  paper,  in  language  that  becomes his   rank.”    His   attitude   on   peace   and   war appears  frequently  in  his  writings:  “In  time of  peace  it  is  necessary  to  prepare,  and  be always  prepared,  for  war  at  sea.”  He  added, however, “I  have  always  regarded  war  as the  scourge  of  the  human  race.” Of  Jones’  many  contributions  to  the  Navy’s great  traditions,  none  stands  out  more  than his  refusal  to  acknowledge  defeat.  After  the classic action between Jones’ ship, the Bonhomme Richard,  and the British frigate,  Serapis,  Jones reported  he  faced  an  enemy  of  greatly  superior force. Bonhomme Richard  was an old, converted merchant  hull  mounting  about  40  guns,  of which only 6 were 18 pounders. James Fenimore Cooper,  in  his  History  of  the  Navy  of  the United  States  of  America,  compared  the  ship’s gun  capacity  to  that  of  a  32-gun  frigate.  The Serapis,  rated  as  a  44-gun  frigate,  mounted  50 guns and was new and superior in maneuverability to the  Bonhomme  Richard. When  the  first  broadside  was  fired,  two of  Jones’  18  pounders  burst,  causing  the  crew to  abandon  the  rest  of  these  guns.  The  battle then   became   a   contest   between   a   battery   of 12  pounders  and  a  battery  of  18  pounders. Several   more   broadsides,   delivered   at   close range,   soon   reduced   Bonhomme   Richard to  a  critical  state.  The  ship’s  hold  was  flooded with  3  feet  of  water,  the  heavy  guns  were  out of  commission,  and  half  the  crew  had  been killed   or   wounded.   In   addition,   the   rudder and   rigging   had   been   shot   away   and   fires were fast approaching the magazine. At that point Captain Richard Pearson of the Serapis called to Jones, asking whether he had struck his colors. Though   barely   able   to   keep   afloat,   Jones thundered  back  his  famous  answer,  “I  have  not 2-4 yet begun to fight.”  These  fighting  words  inspired his  men  with  the  determination  to  win. After fighting for nearly 4 hours, the British surrendered; since no one else dared venture on deck, Captain Pearson himself hauled down the colors  on  his  battered  ship.  The  spirit  of  the offensive and the will to gain victory were never better demonstrated than by John Paul Jones. His immortal  words  “I  have  not  yet  begun  to  fight” inspire Americans today as they did over 200 years ago. Jones’   victories   were   not   accidents.   In moments  of  stress,  he  mingled  with  his  crew, cheering them on. A shipmate once said of Jones, “He  was  in  everybody’s  watch  and  everybody’s mess [deck] all the time. In fact, I may say that any  ship  John  Paul  Jones  commanded  was  full of  himself  all  of  the  time.” After  losing  the  Serapis,   Captain   Pearson at   his   court-martial   made   an   amazing   and illuminating  statement  about  Jones: Although  more  than  half  the  crew  were French—at  any  rate  not  Americans– long  before  the  close  of  the  action  it became  apparent  that  the  American  ship was  dominated  by  a  commanding  will of  the  most  unalterable  resolution,  and there could be no doubt that the intention of   her   commander   was,   if   he   could not  conquer,  to  sink  alongside.  And this  desperate  resolve  was  fully  shared and  fiercely  seconded  by  every  one  of his ship’s company. And if the Honorable Court  may  be  pleased  to  enter  an  ex- pression  of  opinion,  I  will  venture  to say  that  if  French  seamen  can  ever  be induced  by  their  own  officers  to  fight  in their own ships as Captain Jones induced them  to  fight  in  his  American  one,  the future  burdens  of  His  Majesty’s  Navy will be heavier than they have heretofore been. Lord  Sandwich,  first  Lord  of  the  British Admiralty,   wrote   to   one   of   his   commanders, “For   God’s   sake   get   to   sea   immediately.   If you  take  Paul  Jones,  you  will  be  as  high  in the  estimation  of  the  public  as  if  you  had  beat the combined fleets.” Such was the British evalua- tion   of   the   American   navy’s   greatest   combat leader.

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