1813 - Shannon and Chesapeake


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1813 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 200

ready), to sail and attack the Shannon, in compliance with one or more of the verbal challenges which had been sent in. It was natural for the conqueror of the Peacock to wish for an opportunity to capture or drive away a British ship, that had repeatedly lay to off the port, and, in view of all the citizens, had used every endeavour to provoke the Chesapeake to come out and engage her.

At 0' 55 m. p.m., (sic) Cape Ann bearing north-north-east half-east distant 10 or 12 miles, the Shannon filled, and stood out from the land under easy sail. At 1 p.m. the Chesapeake rounded the lighthouse under all sail ; and at 3 h. 40 m. p.m. hauled up, and fired a gun, as if in defiance ; or, perhaps, to induce the Shannon to stop, and allow the gun-vessel and pleasure-boat spectators an opportunity of witnessing how speedily an American, could " whip " a British frigate. Presently afterwards the Shannon did haul up, and reefed topsails. At 4 p.m. both ships, now about seven miles apart, again bore away ; the Shannon with her foresail clewed up, and her main topsail braced flat and shivering, that the Chesapeake might overtake her. At 4 h. 50 m. the Chesapeake took in her studding-sails, topgallantsails, and royals, and got her royal yards on deck. At 5 h. 10 in. p.m., Boston lighthouse bearing west distant about six leagues, the Shannon again hauled up, with her head to the southward and eastward, and lay to, under topsails, topgallantsails, jib, and spanker.

At 5 h. 25 m. the Chesapeake hauled up her foresail ; and, with three ensigns flying, one at the mizen royalmast-head, one at the peak, and one, the largest of all, in the starboard main rigging, steered straight for the Shannon's starboard quarter. The Chesapeake had also, flying at the fore, a large white flag, inscribed with the words: " SAILORS' RIGHTS AND FREE TRADE ; " upon a supposition, perhaps, that this favourite American motto would paralyze the efforts, or damp the energy of the Shannon's men. The Shannon had a union jack at the fore, an old rusty blue ensign at the mizen peak, and, rolled up and stopped, ready to be cast loose if either of these should be shot away, one ensign on the main stay and another in the main rigging. Nor, standing much in need of paint, was her outside appearance at all calculated to inspire a belief, of the order and discipline which reigned within.

At 5 h. 30 m. p.m., to be under command, and ready to wear if necessary, in the prevailing light breeze, the Shannon filled her main topsail and kept a close luff ; but, at the end of a few minutes, having gathered way enough, she again shook the wind out of the sail, and kept it shivering, and also brailed up her driver. Thinking it not unlikely that the Chesapeake would pass under the Shannon's stern, and engage her on the larboard side, Captain Broke divided his men, and directed such as could not fire with effect to be prepared to lie

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