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fort and soothe the wounded and the dying. Captain Hull accordingly sent all his boats, and commenced transporting the officers and men of the Guerriere to his own ship, and, as the weather had now become moderate, by noon on the 20th this duty was accomplished. At three o'clock in the afternoon the prize crew was recalled, having previously set the wreck on fire, and in a quarter of an hour after she blew up.
The disparity between the two ships in killed and wounded was almost unparalleled in the history of naval battles, and was by the official accounts as follows:The loss of the Guerriere in killed was 15 ; missing, 24; wounded, 62. Total killed and wounded, and missing, 101.
The loss on board the Constitution was 7 killed and 7 wounded.
REMARKS ON THIS IMPORTANT ACTION.
Captain Dacres was the son of a British Admiral, and no doubt a brave, highminded, honorable man, but unfortunately for him, he made three grand mistakes in this affair. The first was, in holding his enemy too cheap, a very common fault among his countrymen, even down to the present day. Witness the attack of the British light-cavalry at the battle of Balaklava. The second error was, in boasting, before the battle. Had he remembered the injunction of the infallible old book, "Let not him that girdeth on his armor boast himself as he that putteth it off," it would, doubtless, have saved him much pain and mortification throughout his after life. The third mistake was, in firing too soon, for it is agreed on all hands, that he threw away two entire broadsides. This last mistake evinced a great want of cool, deliberate judgment.
On the part of Captain Hull, I should say, as a nautical man, he also made one mistake in allowing the Constitution to get into the wind, and, consequently making a stern-board, she should have been kept under good steerage-way, for under some circumstances this getting foul of the enemy might have involved the safety of his ship. I will not, however, judge too severely, perhaps it was unavoidable. The wheel-ropes might have been injured, or some other cause connected with the steering of the ship may have occurred, which has not been related in the official account of the action.
With respect to the relative size of the two ships, there can be no doubt that the Constitution was the heavier, and that the weight of metal was also in favor of the American frigate. Still, under these circumstances, it would not have made a shade of difference if the Guerriere's main-deck guns had been twenty-fours in lieu of eighteens.
It matters not how large a shot may be, if it is badly directed and thrown into the water, or, the gun so elevated as to have the shot pass through the upper air, or the lofty sails of the enemy. It will be observed, that Captain Hull received the random shot of his adversary as he closed in with him. He, no doubt, expected to suffer some damage before he should, as it were, crush his enemy, for it will be recollected, his guns were all double-shotted, viz., with round grape and canister, and as soon as he poured in the first destructive broadside he saw that the game was his, and, that he had given the Guerriere a death blow.
Hair-splitting casuists may weigh straws and solve probable results, and cavil about the great disparity of the two ships, but the common sense conclusion is, that the English had met a new enemy in the American seamen, and were disappointed and confounded ; they found the American officers and men fully equal in bravery and seamanship to themselves.
They had for years been accustomed to vanquish the French and Spanish ships-of-war, by their superior skill in sailing and manoeuvring their ships : not that they excelled the French in bravery, for there is no braver people on the face of the earth : neither can the English excel them in gunnery, for they are great cannoneers, and can vie with them in everything pertaining to war, except practical seamanship. It had long been the custom with the English, in their engagements with the French and Spanish, both in fleets and with single ships, as they approached their adversaries, to fire a gun or two as feelers, to ascertain whether they were near enough for their shot to take effect, and then manoeuvre so as to rake their enemy, and gain the victory with but little loss to themselves. It is therefore more than probable, that Captain Dacres acted on the same old principle with the Constitution, not dreaming that she would so soon close in with him, with a determination to con
quer or sink.
From the commencement to the end of the war, the same practice and determination were carried out with all our ships-of-war. The old-fashioned way of playing at long balls, for several hours with their enemy, does not suit the nature or taste of the Americans. They make up their minds on a subject, and then, to use a familiar phrase, “go-ahead," regardless of consequences. And so it will ever be with republicans, each individual feels as though the honor of the flag and of the country rested upon his shoulders ; that he is a citizen of the United States ; is fighting for the land that gave him birth, and not for a tyrannical master, who has no feelings in common with him.
The American seamen in this trial of strength, and in most other naval battles during the war, went into action dancing at their guns, and telling their officers, “Gentlemen, you take care of the flags and the quarter-deck, and we will do the fighting.”
Captain Hull, finding his ship filled with prisoners, many of whom were suffering from their wounds, made sail for Boston, where he arrived on the 30th of the month, after a cruise of just twenty-eight days.
On his return to Boston, after his glorious victory, and destruction of the Guerriere, he was welcomed with heartfelt joy by all classes of people. An artillery company was posted on the wharf, and greeted him with a federal salute, which was returned by the Constitution.
An immense number of citizens received him with loud and unanimous huzzas in every part of the city. The principal streets were beautifully decorated with American flags, and men of all ranks and distinctions appeared to vie with each other to do him honor. A splendid entertainment was given by the inhabitants of Boston to Captain Hull and the brave officers belonging to his ship. The citizens of New York raised a sum of money for the purpose of purchasing swords, which were to be presented to him and his gallant officers. The people of Philadelphia also subscribed funds to purchase two superb pieces of plate to be given to the naval hero and his first Lieutenant, the gallant Morris. In Baltimore the flags of all the vessels in the harbor were displayed in honor of Captain Hull's victory over the Guerriere, and a grand salute fired. In fine, the whole country was electrified, and the entire heart of the Nation beat high in his praise.
LIST OF FRIGATES FIT FOR SEA—FIRST BRITISH SHIP CAPTURED AND SENT INTO NORFOLK
-CAPTURE OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT SCHOONER WRITING COMBAT BETWEEN THB LETTER-OF-MARQUE-SCHOONER FALCON AND THE BRITISH CUTTER HERO—SIXTY-FIVE PRIVATEERS AND LETTERS-OF-MARQUE AT SEA ON THE 16TH OF JULY, 1812-FOUR PRIVATEERS LEAVE THE CAPES OF THE DELAWARE ON THE 20TH OF JULY—PRIZES ARRIVING ALMOST DAILY IN THE ATLANTIC PORTS-SUCCESSFUL CRUISE OF THE PRIVATEER-SCHOONER FAME, OF SALEM-CAPTURE OF A BRITISH TRANSPORT BRIG, SENT INTO GLOUCESTER-ESCAPE OF THE PRIVATEER SLOOP POLLY FROM THE ENGLISH SLOOP-OFWAR INDIAN-CAPTURE OF THE SHIP MARGARET BY THE PRIVATEER TEAZER-EXTRACT FROM A LONDON NEWSPAPER-BRITISH BRIG LEONIDAS SENT INTO SAVANNAH BY THE MARS-CAPTURE OF THE BRITISH SHIP S. CLARK BY THE GLOBE, SENT INTO NORFOLKPRIVATEER JOHN RETURNS TO SALEM, AFTER A SUCCESSFUL CRUISE- COMMODORE BARNEY ARRIVES AT NEWPORT IN THE ROSSIE, ON THE OTH OF AUGUST, AFTER A SUCCESSFUL CRUISE-A SEVERE FIGHT BETWEEN THE PRIVATEER SHADOW AND BRITISH SHIP MARYBRITISH SHIP QUEBEC CAPTURED BY THE SARATOGA-CHASE OF THE PRIVATEER JACK'S FAVORITE BY HIS MAJESTY'S SCHOONER SUBTLE, AND THE LOSS OF THE LATTER.
WHEN I commenced writing the history of the privateers and letters-of-marque, it was not my intention to enter deeply into the exploits and achievements of our gallant little navy, either on the broad ocean or on our extensive lakes, but merely to intersperse my book with a few of the most brilliant combats between single ships. But, as I advance, I find the two subjects so intimately connected, that it is with great difficulty I am able to proceed without giving a sketch, or short outline of the war.
In following up the chain of events from its commencement, it will be necessary to insert here a list of the American frigates, that were well-manned and efficient, when the war was declared, on the 18th of June, 1812.