Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Captain Broke's Challenge

 From The Fight For A Free Sea: A Chronicle of the War of 1812:

"Old Ironsides" [Constitution]

"Given time to shake them together in hard service at sea, he [Captain James Lawrence] would have made a smart crew of them no doubt, as Isaac Hull had done in five weeks with the men of the Constitution, but destiny ordered otherwise."

"In the spring of 1813 the harbor of Boston was blockaded by the thirty-eight-gun British frigate Shannon, Captain Philip Vere Broke, who had been in this ship for seven years."

"Lawrence's men were unknown to each other and to their officers, and they had never been to sea together. The last draft came aboard, in fact, just as the anchor was weighed and the Chesapeake stood out to meet her doom. Even most of her officers were new to the ship. They had no chance whatever to train or handle the rabble between decks. Now Captain Broke had been anxious to fight this American frigate as matching the Shannon in size and power. He had already addressed to Captain Lawrence a challenge whose wording was a model of courtesy but which was provocative to the last degree. A sailor of Lawrence's heroic temper was unlikely to avoid such a combat, stimulated as he was by the unbroken success of his own navy in duels between frigates."

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