1813 - Shannon and Chesapeake


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1813 Shannon and Chesapeake 209

Broadside-guns No 25 25
lbs 538 590
Crew (men only) No 306 376
Size tons 1066 1135

It is clear from this statement, that the " superiority of force, " little as it may have been, was on the side of the Chesapeake. That we will not, for a moment, dwell on ; nor shall the American star and chain shot, and hogshead of lime, be allowed to disturb the equality and fairness of the action. But Captain Broke did something more than capture an American frigate of equal force : he sought and commenced the attack close to an American port filled with armed vessels, and beat his ship in 11, and captured her in 15 minutes : thereby proving, that the bard, who eight months before had sung,

And, as the war they did provoke,
We'll pay them with our cannon ;
The first to do it will be BROKE,
In the gallant ship the SHANNON,*

was not a false prophet.

Thus was the spell broken ; and we may remark, that the Chesapeake was not finally subdued by a superiority in that quality which constituted the forte of the Shannon, her gunnery. No, it was by boarding ; by Captain Broke's quick discernment in catching, and his promptitude and valour in profiting by, the critical moment, when the Chesapeake's men were retreating from their quarters. Gallant, truly gallant, was the behaviour of Captain Lawrence. His first lieutenant, Augustus Charles Ludlow, emulated his commander ; and both deserved a better crew than the Chesapeake's ; a crew that (oh, woful addition !) consisted, within about a twelfth part, of native Americans.

Owing to Captain Broke's incapacity from his wound, Lieutenant Provo William Parry Wallis, second of the Shannon, took charge of her, and Lieutenant Falkiner, third of the Shannon, remained in charge of the Chesapeake. Having repaired the damage done to their respective rigging, and the Shannon having fished her mizenmast, the two frigates made sail for Halifax ; and on the 6th, at 3 h. 30 m. p.m., the prize, followed by her captor, passed along the wharfs of the town, amidst the cheers of the inhabitants, as well as of the crews of the ships of war that were lying in the harbour. Captain Lawrence had died on board the Chesapeake of his wounds two days before and Captain Broke, in a state of severe suffering from his wounds, was removed from the Shannon to the house of the commissioner, Captain the Honourable Philip Wodehouse.

* Naval Chronicle, vol. xxv iii., p. 422.

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