1813 - Shannon and Chesapeake


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1813 Shannon and Chesapeake 203

by midshipman William Smith (now lieutenant e) and his top, men, about five in number ; who either destroyed or drove on deck all the Americans there stationed. This gallant young man had deliberately passed along the Shannon's fore yard, which was braced up to the Chesapeake's main yard, which was nearly square ; and thence into her top. All further annoyance from the Chesapeake's mizen top had also been put a stop to by another of the Shannon's midshipmen, Mr. Cosnahan, who, from the starboard main yard-arm, had fired at the Americans, as fast as his men in the top could load the muskets and hand them to him.

After the Americans upon the forecastle had submitted, Captain Broke ordered one of his men to stand sentry over them, and then sent most of the others aft where the conflict was still going on. He was in the act of giving them orders to answer the fire from the Chesapeake's main top (this was just before Mr. Smith's gallant and successful exploit), when the sentry called lustily out to him. On turning round, the captain found himself opposed by three of the Americans ; who, seeing they were superior to the British then near them, had armed themselves afresh. Captain Broke parried the middle fellow's pike, and wounded him in the face; but instantly received, from the man on the pikeman's right, a blow with the but-end of a musket, which bared his skull, and nearly stunned him. Determined to finish the British commander, the third man cut him down with his broadsword, but, at that very instant, was himself cut down by Mindham, the Shannon's seaman, already known to us. Captain Broke was not the only sufferer upon this occasion : one of his men was killed, and two or three were badly wounded. Can it be wondered, if all that were concerned in this breach of faith fell victims to the indignation of the Shannon's men ? It was as much as Captain Broke could do, to save from their fury a young midshipman, who, having slid down a rope from the Chesapeake's fore top, begged his protection. Mr. Smith, who had just at that moment descended from the main top, assisted Mindham and another of the Shannon's men in helping the captain on his legs. While in the act of tying a handkerchief round his commander's head, Mindham pointing aft, called out, " There, sir, there goes up the old ensign over the yankee colours." Captain Broke saw it hoisting (with what feelings may well be imagined), and was instantly led to the Chesapeake's quarterdeck, where he seated himself upon one of the carronade-slides.

The act of changing the Chesapeake's colours had proved fatal to a gallant British officer, and to four or five fine fellows of the Shannon's crew. We left Lieutenant Watt, just as, having raised himself on his legs after his wound, he was hailing the Shannon, to fire at the Chesapeake's mizen top. He then called for an English ensign ; and, hauling down the American ensign, bent, owing to the halliards being tangled, the English flag below

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