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kept a journal of his voyage, which was afterwards lost with him.
The commencement of the revolution gave a new turn to his pursuits, and he repaired without delay, to the standard of his country. When a rupture between England and America appeared inevitable, he returned to Philadelphia, and soon after his arrival, he was appointed to the command of the Camden galley, fitted for the defence of the Delaware. He found this too inactive a service, and when the fleet was preparing, under commodore Hopkins, for an expedition against New Providence, he applied for a command in the fleet, and was immediately appointed commander of the Andrew Doria, a brig of 14 guns and 130 men. Paul Jones who was then a lieutenant, and was going on the expedition, was distinguished by captain Biddle, and introduced to his friends as an officer of merit.
Before he sailed from the capes of Delaware, an incident occurred, which marked his personal intrepidity. Hearing that two deserters from bis vessel were at Lewistown in prison, an officer wassent on shore for them, but he returned with information that the two men, with some others, had armed themselves, barricadoed the door, and swore they would not be taken: that the militia of the town had been sent for, but were afraid to open the door, the prisoners threatening to shoot the first man who entered. Captain Biddle immediately went to the prison, accompanied by a midshipman, and calling to one of the deserters whose name was Green, a stout, resolute fellow, ordered him to open the door; he replied that he would not, and if he attempted to enter, he would shoot him. He then ordered the door to be forced, and entering singly with a pistol in each hand, he called to Green, who was prepared to fire, and said, " Now Green, if you do not take good aim, you are a dead man"
Daunted by his manner, their resolution failed, and the militia coming in, secured them. They afterwards declared to the officer who furnishes this account, that it was captain Biddle's look and manner which had awed them into submission, for tliat they had determined to kill him as soon as he came into the room.
Writing from the capes to his brother, the late judge Biddle, he says, "I know not what may be our fate: bė it, however, what it may, you may rest assured, I will never cause a blush in the cheeks of my friends or countrymen.” Soon after they sailed, the small-pox broke out and raged with great violence in the fleet, which was manned chiefly by New England seamen. The humanity of captain Biddle, always prompt and active, was employed on this occasion to alleviate the general distress, by all the means in his power. His own crew, which was from Philadelphia, being secure against the distemper, he took on board great numbers of the sick from the other vessels. Every part of his vessel was crowded, the longboat was fitted for their accommodation, and he gave up his own cot to a young midshipman, on whom he bestowed the greatest attention till his death. In the mean while he slept himself upon the lockers, refusing the repeated solicitations of his officers, to accept their births. On their arrival at New Providence, it surrendered without opposition. The crew of the Andrew Doria, from their crowded situation, became sick, and before she left Providence, there were not men enough capable of doing duty to man the boats; captain Biddle visited them every day; and ordered every necessary refreshment, but they continued sickly until they arrived at New London.
After refitting at New London, captain Biddle received orders to proceed off the banks of Newfoundland, in order to intercept the transports and storeships bound to Boston. Before he reached the banks, he captured two ships from Scotland, with 400 highland troops on board, destined for Boston. At this time the Andrew Doria had not 100 men. Lieutenant Josiah, a brave and excel. lent officer, was put on board one of the prizes, with all the highland officers, and ordered to make the first port. Unfortunately, about ten days afterwards, he was taken by the Cerberus frigate, and, on pretence of his being an Englishman, he was ordered to do duty, and extremely ill used. Captain Biddle hearing of the ill treatment of lieutenant Josiah, wrote to the admiral at New York, that, however disagreeable it was to him, he would treat a young man of family, believed to be a son of lord Craston, who was then his prisoner, in the manner they treated lieutenant Josiah.
He also applied to his own government in behalf of this injured officer, and by the proceedings of congress, on the 7th of August, 1776, it appears, “ that a letter from captain Nicholas Biddle to the marine committee, was laid before congress and read: whereupon, Resolved, That general Washington be directed to propose an exchange of lieutenant Josiah, for a lieutenant of the navy of Great Britain: that the general remonstrate to lord Howė on the cruel treatment lieutenant Josiah has met with, of which the congress have received undoubted information." Lieutenant Josiah was exchanged, after an imprisonment of ten months. After the capture of the ships with the highlanders, such was captain Biddle's activity and success in taking prizes, that when he arrived in the Delaware, he had but five of the crew with which he sailed from New London, the rest having been distributed among the captured vessels, and their places supplied by men who had entered from the prizes. He had a great number of prisoners, so that, for some days before he got in, he never left the deck.
While he was thus indefatigably engaged in weakening the enemy's power, and advancing his country's interest, he was disinterested and generous in all that related to his private advantage. The brave and worthy opponent, whom the chance of war had thrown in his power, found in him a patron and friend, who, on more than one occasion, was known to restore to the vanquished the fruits of victory.
In the latter end of the year 1776, captain Biddle was appointed to the command of the Randolph, a frigate of thirty-two guns. With his usual activity, he employed every exertion to get her ready for sea. The difficulty of procuring American seamen at that time, obliged him, in order to man his ship, to take a number of British sea en, who were prisoners of war, and who had requested leave to enter.
The Randolph sailed from Philadelphia, in February, 1777.
Soon after she got to sea, her lower masts were discovered to be unsound, and, in a heavy gale of wind, all her masts went by the board. While they were bearing away for Charleston, the English sailors, with some others of the crew, formed a design to take the ship. When all was ready, they gave three cheers on the gun-deck. By the decided and resolute conduct of captain Biddle and his officers, the ring leaders were seized and punished, and the rest submitted without further resistance. After refitting at Charleston, as-speedily as possible, he sailed on a cruise, and three days after he left the bar, he fell in with four sail of vessels, bound from Jamaica to London.One of them called the True Briton mounted twenty guns. The commander of her, who had frequently expressed to his passengers, his hopes of falling in with the Randolph, as soon as he perceived her, made all the sail he could from her, but finding he could not escape, he hove too, and
kept up a constant fire, until the Randolph hrad bore down upon him, and was preparing for a broadside, when he hauled down his colours. By her superior sailing, the Randolph was enabled to capture the rest of the vessels, and in one week from the time he sailed from Charleston, captain Biddle returned there with his prizes, which proved to be
valuable. Encouraged by his spirit and success, the state of South Carolina made exertions for fitting out an expedition under his command. His name, and the personal attachment to him, urged forward a crowd of volunteers to serve with him, and in a short time, the ship General Moultrie, the brigs Fair America, and Polly, and the Notre Dame, were prepared for sea. A detachment of fifty men from the first regiment of South Carolina Continental infantry, was ordered to act as marines on board the Randolph. Such was the attachment which the honourable and amiable deportment of captain Biddle had impressed during his stay at Charleston, and such the confidence inspired by his professional conduct and valour, that a general emulation pervaded the corps to have the honour of serving under his command. The tour of duty, after a generous competition among the officers, was decided to captain Joor, and lieutenants Grey and Simmons, whose gallant conduct, and that of their brave detachment, did justice to the high character of the regiment. As soon as the Randolph was refitted, and a new mainmast obtained in place of one which had been struck with lightning, she dropt down to Rebellion Roads with her little squadron. Their intention was to attack the Carysfort frigate, the Perseus twenty-four gun ship, the Hinchinbrook of sixteen guns, and a privator which had been cruizing off the Bar, and had much annoyed the trade. They were detained a considerable time in Rebellion Roads, after