Robert Hilyard was far from the most likely pirate. He was the captain of the schooner Lilly Margaret and costal trade had been hard of late. It was owing to this that he decided to try his hand at being a Buccaneer.
He consulted his men, and they too were up for the enterprise, and with the two small defensive cannon on board they decided that they needed to up their firepower. After hard work on small jobs afloat and ashore, they managed to scrape together sufficient funds for a ten-pounder to augment the ship’s two six-pounders.
When all was ready the Lilly Margaret sailed from Philadelphia in search of prey. She sited a cargo vessel off of Cape Hatteras and set out in pursuit. As she was drawing near, a massive fog bank swallowed the two ships, but the relentless Hilyard carried onwards. At first he could see its running lights, but soon after he lost track of his quarry.
As the sun rose higher, the fog began to break up and the Lilly Margaret caught glimpse of a vessel ahead of her to starboard. The crew rolled out the guns and prepared to call for the ship to prepare to be boarded.
Hilyard grabbed his long-hailer and announced his presence. “Ahoy, vessel – this is the Black Lilly.”
Before he could continue his demand a voice came from the fog, “Ahoy vessel this is the US Frigate Essex.”
Hilyard gulped and quickly responded, “Hallo Essex, can you tell us how far it is to Charleston?”