The Raid on Nassau: America’s First Amphibious Assault

In the early months of 1776, George Washington was desperate for gunpowder. So the Continental Congress dispatched the fledgling US Navy to seize British stores along the Carolina and Georgia coasts. In secret, they also authorized Commodore Esek Hopkins to raid into the Caribbean.

On 3 March, 1776, Hopkin’s and his small flotilla appeared off the coast of the British colony of Nassau. Captain Samuel Nichols and 200 Marines landed on the island in the first amphibious assault in Marine Corps’ history, and bloodlessly seized the fort.

The next day the Marines seized the town on the other side of the island only to find that the British governor and the townsfolk worked all night loading most of the powder onto ships. The ships departed at first light and slipped by Hopkins.

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