On June 9, the Gaspee attempted to stop and search the Hannah, a small trader from Newport bound for Providence. The captain of the Hannah, Benjamin Lindsey, refused to comply even after warning shots were fired from the Gaspee. Lindsey lured Dudingston into an area off Namquid point, an area which Lindsey knew to be very shallow at low tide. By two o'clock, the Gaspee had run aground and the Hannah raced away. Upon arrival in Providence, Lindsey informed John Brown of his experiences. Brown saw this as an opportunity for revenge and called upon his loyal sea captain, Abraham Whipple, to muster a crew. Within a few hours, the sixty men shoved off from Fenner's Warf to make the six mile journey to where the Gaspee was stranded.
The dark moonless evening kept the longboats out of sight until they were within 60 to 100 yards of the ship. This was important because each man knew that if they were detected, the eight large guns of the Gaspee would tear them to shreds. By the time the Gaspee's sentinel raised the alarm, the ship was surrounded. John Brown, describing himself as the Sheriff of Kent County, called for the surrender of the Gaspee and Lieutenant Dudingston. In response, Dudingston ordered the crew to fire upon anyone who attempted to board the ship. Shortly thereafter, the Rhode Islanders rushed the decks of the Gaspee and, in the melee, Dudingston was struck by a musket ball in the arm and fell to the deck. The remainder of the crew, most of whom were asleep below deck, were overcome by the raiding party and Dudingston was forced to surrender. The captured crew was bound, placed into the longboats, and placed on shore in the Pawtuxet area. The leaders then removed most of the documents aboard the Gaspee and ordered the ship to be burned. Little did they realize that the flames that reached into the night sky were, in reality, lighting the way to the forthcoming American Revolution.
The following day, the towns of Providence, Bristol, and Newport were abuzz with the events of the previous evening. Many people saw the flames and heard the explosions. Yet, when the investigation of the Gaspee affair was opened on June 10, 1772 until its closure a year later, not one individual claimed to know any detail surrounding those involved or the course of action. It was not until after the Americans had succeeded in obtaining their independence that the stories were told and written.