...on the 13th of August the Essex fell in with the British sloop of war Alert which engaged her apparently with out perceiving the difference in force. The action lasted only eight minutes. After a few broadsides the Alert surrendered the men deserting their guns in a panic. The sloop had seven feet of water in her hold and three men wounded. The Essex had no injuries or casualties. This was the first capture of a public ship of the enemy made by us during the war.
The capture of the Alert was looked upon by English officers as an accident, a thing of no moment, which was only to precede the extinction of the little American navy.
[Source (Naval history. War of 1812: pamphlet collection)]