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In Their Own Words

January 17, 1733

Pirate Attack Foiled

Four days after reaching Charles Town, the first Georgia colonists were aboard the Anne sailing south along the Carolina coast towards their new home. Aboard ship, Peter Gordon recorded in his journal some unexpected excitement:

“The 17th about two in the afternoon, we were alarmed by a sloop who as soon as he perceived us standing along shore, emediately changed his course and bore down upon us, which looking very suspitious made us conclude he must either be a pirate or Spanish Guard de Costa and that his intention was to plunder us, upon which Mr. Oglethorp order’d all our men upon deck, and the small arms to be brought up, and all the women and children to keep below, and not appear upon deck. In the mean time, while we were drawing our men up, and getting our arms loaded, and ready for our defence, Captain Thomas who commanded the shipp order’d his great guns to be charg’d, and all things ready on his part, continuing still our course. And the sloop bearing still down upon us and who by this time had gott so near us that we could perseive hade Jack Ensigne and pennant flying, which appear’d to us to be Spanish Colours, but being by this time pretty well provided for him, the Captain ordered the Course to be hauled up in order to waite for him. As soon as he came within gun shott of us, the captain order’d a gun to be fired across his stem, and we could perceive the ball to fall about a hundred yards ahead of him, but that not bringing him too, as we expected it would, he ordered another to be fired, still nearer to him, with fell within a very small distance of him, upon which and fearing the next shott would be aboard him he thought proper to lower his top sails, and upon viewing us and finding we were so well provided for him both sides of the shipp being compleatly lined with armed men, he thought proper to gett upon a wind, and stand away the same course he was in when we perceived him first. The pilote whome we hade on board said he had some knowledge of him that he had been a pirate, and that he certainly would have plundered us hade he not found we were too strong for him. I cannot here omitt taking notice of the bravery of some of our women who when we expected every moment to come to an ingagement beg’d they might be assisting in handing us up arms ammunition, and whatever should be wanted, and that if it would be permitted they would come upon deck and fight as long as they could stand, while some of our men who had been noted the whole voyage for noisy bullying fellows, were not to be found upon this occasion but sculked either in the hold or between decks.”

Source: [No author or editor cited], Our First Visit in America: Early Reports from the Colony of Georgia, 1732-1740 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1974), pp. 10-11.