ALLIANCE-SIBYL ENGAGEMENT. 10 March 1783. Captain John Barry sailed from Havana in the thirty-two-gun frigate Alliance accompanied by another Continental ship, the Duc de Lauzun (twenty guns) to deliver $100,000 in specie to Congress. Several days later at dawn on 10 March they were sighted off the coast of Florida. Three British warships took up the pursuit: the frigates Alarm (thirty-two guns) and Sibyl (sometimes spelled Sybille in American accounts; twenty-eight guns), and the sixteen-gun sloop of war Tobago. The Alliance, the only Continental Navy vessel with copper sheathing, had great speed and was easily getting away when Barry saw that the British were overtaking the Lauzun. He turned to assist his smaller, slower, and clumsier consort. While Barry was instructing the Lauzun to jettison her guns and run for it, a fifty-gun French ship from Havana bore down on the scene. Four of the six vessels separated, leaving Alliance to engage in a frigate duel with the smaller Sibyl. After forty-five minutes the heavier guns of the Alliance reduced the Sibyl to a wreck barely able to break contact, and Barry resumed course for Philadelphia. This was the last naval action fought by the Continental navy.
SEE ALSO Barry, John.
Fowler, William M., Jr. Rebels Under Sail: The American Navy during the Revolution. New York: Scribners, 1976.
United States Navy, Naval Historical Division. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. 8 vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1959–1981.
revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.