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BATTLE BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES FRIGATE UNITED STATES AND THE BRITISH FRIGATE
MACEDONIAN-REMARKS ON ADMIRAL WARREN'S BLOCKADING THE AMERICAN PORTSBRITISH SHIP JOHN CAPTURED BY THE COMET-A VALUABLE BRITISH SHIP SENT INTO PORTLAND BY THE DECATUR--FXTRACT FROM THE LOG-BOOK OF THE ATLAS, CAPTAIN MAFFET, AND HIS ACCOUNT OF AN ACTION WITH TWO BRITISH SHIPS, WHICH HE CAPTURES —BETWEEN APRIL AND AUGUST, 1812, TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SIX AMERICAN MERCHANT VESSELS ARRIVE AT NEW YORK-ON THE 18TH OF JUNF, THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK PRESENT CAPTAIN ISAAC HULL WITH THE FREEDOM OF THEIR CITY IN A GOLD BOX-COMMODORE BARNEY RETURNS TO BALTIMORE, ON THE 10TH OF NOVEMBER, FROM A SECOND SUCCESSFUL CRUISE--EXTRACT FROM HIS LOG-BOOK OX THAT CRUISE-A GALLANT, BUT UNSUCCESSFUL CONFLICT BETWEEN THE PRIVATEER NONSICH AND AN ENGLISH SHIP, OFF MARTINIQUE--A MEMORIAL FROM THE MERCHANTS OF NEW YORK TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES --BRITISH SHIP JOHN HAMILTON SENT INTO BALTIMORE BY THE DOLPHIN PRIVATEER—A BRITISH SIJIP OF 22 GUNS DRIVEN ON SHORE NEAR DEMARARA, BY THE GENERAL ARMSTRONG-BRITISH SHIP QUEEN, 16 GUNS AND 40 MEN, CAPTURED BY THE GENERAL ARMSTRONG, ETC.
NAVAL BATTLE BETWEEN THE FRIGATE UNITED STATES AND THE
On the 25th October, in latitude 29° North, longitude 29° 30' West, in the neighborhood of the Western Islands, Commodore Decatur was cruising alone to intercept the enemy, and no doubt wishing to meet a single ship of equal or somewhat superior force, it was his good fortune to make a large sail to windward. It was then blowing a strong breeze, with a high sea on, and as the sail was dead to windward, the Frigate United States was brought to the wind, in order to near, and ascertain the character of the ship in sight.
It was soon discovered that the stranger was a frigate, and no doubt an enemy, who being to windward, had of course, his choice of distance and time for commencing the conflict. As the stranger did not choose to ap
proach within good fighting distance, Commodore Decatur was obliged to hug the wind, in order to bring the enemy within the range of his guns.
At length, drawing up under his lee, he ordered a broadside to be given to the foe, but observing that most of the shot fell short of the enemy, he reserved his fire, keeping his luff so that he was soon enabled to get near enough to have his main-deck guns take effect. Although at too great a distance to reach his opponent with his carronades and musketry, a heavy cannonade with their long-guns was kept up for the space of half an hour, by both parties. It was then apparent that the American frigate was hulling and cutting her antagonist to pieces, while she herself received but little injury, as the greatest portion of the shot from the English ship passed over her, and through her upper sails.
As a matter of course, the English frigate gradually drifted to leeward, while the American kept her luff. They naturally neared each other, and as the American frigate had ranged far enough ahead to gain a favorable position, she tacked and passed under the lee of the enemy.
The mizzen-mast of the English ship having been previously shot, at this moment fell overboard, taking with it the fore and main top-masts, while the main-yard was hanging in the slings in two pieces. There were no colors flying, for there was nothing left to set them upon.
In this situation, the disabled ship could do no more, and any further resistance would have been a useless sacrifice of human life. As a matter of course, the firing ceased on both sides.
When the United States came up under the lee of
the disabled ship, demanding her name, and whether she had surrendered, her answer was that it was the Macedonian frigate, of thirty-eight guns, Captain Carden, and that she had struck.
On taking possession of the Macedonian, she was found frightfully cut to pieces, having received about one hundred round shot in her hull. Her rigging and sails were rent in tatters. Of a crew of three hundred men, thirty-six were killed and sixty-eight wounded, numbering together one hundred and four put hors de combat ; a fearful destruction of human life in the short space of an hour and a half.
The Macedonian was a fine ship of her class ; rated thirty-eight, but carrying forty-nine guns: eighteens on her gun-deck, and thirty-two pound carronades on her spar-deck. She was only four years old, and had not been long at sea.
It is but fair to acknowledge that the United States was a larger ship than her opponent. She also carried five more guns, and heavier metal, with a larger number of men ; still it is surprising how little she suffered in comparison with her adversary; she having had but five men killed, and seven wounded.
Among the killed was the Third Lieutenant, Mr. John M. Fuk, a promising young officer. No other officer was hurt in the combat.
The rigging and sails of the American frigate were somewhat injured, but not so much as to prevent her from continuing her cruise, had it not been deemed advisable for her to convoy her prize into port.
Mr. Allen, the first lieutenant of the United States, was appointed to the command of the prize. They riggedla jury mizzen-mast, repaired the sails and rigging, and soon the English frigate was transformed into an Ameri
can barque, and proceeded on her passage to "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
REMARKS ON THE BATTLE.
I am aware that it is much easier to criticize than to fight, still, as a seaman, I think Captain Carden made a mistake in keeping at so great a distance, and, as it were, lying like a target to be cut to pieces.
Had he bore down close to his enemy, he could at least have done him a great deal of damage, and no one knows but some lucky shot might have disabled his opponent in her rudder or some other vital part.
As he was to windward during the whole fight, he had the advantage of choosing his own distance, and could but have been beaten at last.
I am happy to add, however, that it is agreed on all hands, both by friends and foes, that Captain Carden was a brave, humane, honorable man, with the polished manners of gentleman.
The writer of these pages was in New York at the time of the arrival of the Macedonian at the Navy Yard in Brooklyn, and immediately repaired on board the captured ship
She was, of course, somewhat battered in her hull and spars, but still a fine fast-sailing frigate, and was soon repaired and fitted to cruise under the stars and stripes, against those who had until this war been in the habit of treating our flag with contempt and derision. I will here observe that every American was rejoiced at the capture of another British frigate ; still there was no disposition to triumph over an unfortunate foe. Captain Carden had never been bullying and blustering on our coast, and carrying fire and destruction in his path against defenceless plantations and fishing towns, like the
notorious Cockburn, and several other ruffians of the same stamp of character. On the contrary, Captain Carden was looked upon as a gentleman, and every honorable man felt a sympathy for his misfortunes. It may appear somewhat surprising to the present generation to learn how soon the public and private character of nearly all the British officers that commanded on our coast at that period was known to the public at large. Some of them were respected and esteemed even by their enemies, for their kind and humane acts of generosity, while others were despised and hated for their coarse brutality. As the most of those who figured in the war against us have gone to their rest, I deem it unwise to name any more of them, as it can do no good, and may perhaps injure the feelings of their children and grandchildren.
Notwithstanding the reiterated proclamations by Admiral Warren (Commander-in-chief of his Majesty's naval forces on the coast of North America), declaring the greatest part of our sea coast under a strict and rigid blockade ; and though numerous line-of-battle ships and frigates were stationed at the entrance of our principal ports, striving to intercept and annihilate our trade and commerce ; still, with all their force and vigilance, they could not prevent our privateers and letters-of-marque from entering and leaving our ports almost daily.
If the enemy's ships were to leeward, and a strong brecze blowing, our privateers and private armed vessels would slip out in spite of them, even at mid-day.
If such an opportunity did not offer, they had only to wait for darkness, or thick, stormy weather, and thus, while the enemy was waiting to catch our mischievous privateers near our own ports, they were annoying and capturing British ships and vessels in almost every part