HMS Hussar

HMS Hussar Mermaid-class frigate (3m). L/B/D: 124 33.5 11 dph (37.8m 10.2m 3.4m). Tons: 613 bm. Hull: wood. Comp.: 200. Arm.: 24 9pdr, 4 3pdr, 12 swivels. Des.: Sir Thomas Slade. Built: Inwood, Rotherhithe, Eng.; 1763. During the American Revolution, HMS Hussar sailed as a dispatch boat on the North American station. By mid-1779, the British position in New York was precarious as a French army had joined forces with General George Washington's troops north of the city. When Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney took his twenty ships of the line south in November, it was decided that the army's pay roll be moved to the anchorage at Gardiner's Bay on eastern Long Island. Over his pilot's better judgment, on November 24 Hussar's Captain Charles Pole decided to sail from the East River through the treacherous waters of Hell Gate between Manhattan Island and Long Island. Just before reaching Long Island Sound, Hussar was swept onto Pot Rock and began sinking. Pole was unable to run her aground and she sank in 16 fathoms of water. The British immediately denied there was any gold aboard the ship, but despite the difficulty of diving in the waters of Hell Gate, reports of $2 to $4 million in gold were the catalyst that prompted many salvage efforts over the next 150 years. This continued even after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "blew the worst features of Hell Gate straight back to hell" with 56,000 pounds of dynamite in 1876. Hussar's remains, if any survive, are now believed to lie beneath landfill in the Bronx. Hepper, British Warship Losses. Rattray, Perils of the Port of New York.

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