Rathbun, John Peck

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Rathbun, John Peck

RATHBUN, JOHN PECK. (1746–1823). Continental naval officer. Rhode Island. Having gone to sea as a boy, this virtually unknown officer (whose name is also spelled Rathburne and Rathbourne) served almost continuously on the Providence (twelve guns), first under John Hazard and then under John Paul Jones, taking command in May 1777. In a raid on the Bahamas he captured Nassau with his fifty-man crew, held it three days, liberated thirty American prisoners, and without the loss of a man withdrew with two captured schooners, a sixteen-gun ship, a brig, and a considerable quantity of war matériel. A year later he assumed command of the Queen of France (twenty-eight guns). In mid-July 1779 he was with Abraham Whipple when three American ships made one of the richest captures of the war.

Rathbun was captured with Whipple's small fleet at Charleston on 12 May 1780. Paroled, he returned to Boston and on 4 August 1781 got command of the brig Wexford, a twenty-gun privateer. Little more is known of Rathbun.

SEE ALSO Whipple, Abraham.

                            revised by Michael Bellesiles