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A Sea Change: Naval Warfare in the American Revolution in the Spring of 1778

It was the Spring of 1778, the small Continental Navy was pitted against the greatest navy in the world, The Royal Navy.  How could they hope to compete with this vastly superior foe?  Did David (the Continental Navy) have any chance against Goliath (the Royal Navy)? Join us on Monday, May 9th, as we welcome Dr. Dennis Conrad, a historian at the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) as he presents A Sea Change: Naval Warfare in the American Revolution in the Spring of 1778. This talk is about America’s naval heritage and the changes in the nature of naval warfare during the American Revolution. Dr. Conrad also describes how ships from the colonies, then called the Continental Navy, fought not just in the Atlantic but also saw action as far away as the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Our lectures have proved to be very popular and we strongly recommend that you book your seat now. 
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The all inclusive admission price is $49 per person which includes the 18th century American Fare Buffet, all soft beverages and coffee, family style sweets during the question and answer session, all tax and gratuities, the lecture, and a donation to help support the Paoli Battlefield Historical Park.

Your admission also includes a raffle ticket for a chance to win a night’s stay at the General Warren Inne. There will be one winner drawn at each lecture.

On 23 September 1779 off Flamborough Head, England, Continental Navy frigate Bonhomme Richard, under the command of John Paul Jones, captured HMS Serapis. When asked to surrender his ship during the battle, Jones replied “I have not yet begun to fight!” “USS Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis” by Anton O. Fischer.

The spring of 1778 witnessed significant changes and the acceleration of changes already in motion in the nature of naval warfare during the American Revolution. These changes include: the internationalization of the naval war, including the sailing of the fleet of the Comte d’Estaing to America and the British response; a re-direction in British strategy, including retrenchment on the North American mainland; a new aggressiveness on the part of the Continental Navy that saw it increasingly bring the war to European waters; American naval successes in North America confined to the “periphery,” i.e., East Florida/Georgia, Spanish Louisiana/British West Florida and Nova Scotia in North America and Africa; an increase in the numbers and effectiveness of Loyalist privateers in American waters; the questioning of the reputation of the Continental Navy and its officers by fellow Americans; and questions of the allegiance and power of ordinary seamen in the Continental Navy. Many of these changes, although vitally important in understanding the American Revolution, have been virtually ignored in history books. This talk, using material found in the newly-published Naval Documents of the American Revolution, volume 12, will provide a new and exciting perspective to anyone interested in the Revolutionary War or in America’s naval heritage.

Dr Dennis Conrad
Dr Dennis Conrad


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