The attack on New Providence, Bahamas was led by Captain Samuel Nicholas and was the first amphibious raid in the history of the Marine Corps. It was done to support General Washington’s new army.
General Washington did not have the minimum amounts of ammunition needed to mount an attack on Trenton against the British. Eight vessels under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins set out with a battalion of Marines, commanded by Captain Samuel Nicholas, for the British colony. The forts located at New Providence were known to have a large quantity of badly needed gunpowder.
Landing on 3 March 1776 the Marines made the first amphibious assault, taking the British defenders completely by surprise. The British withdrew from Fort Montague and the Marines captured the fort without firing a shot. Unfortunately, the British had moved the majority of the gunpowder to their main fort at Nassau. The Marines spent the night at Fort Montague; confident the next morning would bring a great victory.
During the night the British governor evacuated most of Fort Nassau’s gunpowder by ship to avoid capture by the Marines. The morning of the fourth, Nicholas demanded and received from the governor of New Providence, the surrender of the fort. The fortress yielded only twenty-four barrels of gunpowder, which was a disappointment to the victorious Marines. However, the Marines stripped the island of cannon and ordnance supplies before departing.
The expedition to New Providence was not over for the Marines. On their way home Commodore Hopkins’s squadron fell under attack with a British frigate.
In the ensuing battle, Marine sharpshooters fired their weapons from the ships riggings and masts, killing many British sailors.
The British frigate broke off the engagement and headed for home. Seven Marines died in the action, becoming the first of many Marines who would die in the fight for independence.