Fire and Sword
On 24 October 1776, the Continental Congress issued secret orders to Lambert Wickes, captain of Reprisal, a ship-rigged vessel of 18 six-pound carriage guns and a crew of 130. He was to cross the Atlantic with a secret weapon that would eventually change the course of the American Revolution and ensure victory for the rebelling colonies.
Wickes was a good pick for such a vital mission. Earlier that spring, he had taken Reprisal to the West Indies and successfully returned with much-needed gunpowder for the Continental Army. During that voyage, he captured three prizes and battled a powerful British warship, HMS Kingfisher, to a draw.
After successfully eluding the Royal Navy in a perilous trek across the Atlantic and delivering the secret weapon to France, Wickes set sail again, this time with orders to "let old England see how they like to have an active enemy at their own door, [for] they have sent fire and sword to ours."