1813 - Shannon and Chesapeake


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1813 Shannon and Chesapeake 211

which might have been done successfully, it is believed, from the cautious manner in which the enemy came on board. "

It was certainly very " cautious " in Captain Broke, to lead 20 men on board an enemy's ship, supposed to be manned with a complement of 400 ; and which, at the very moment, had at least 270 men without a wound about them. The court of inquiry makes, also, a fine story of the firing down the hatchway. Not a word is there of the " magnanimous conquered foe " having fired from below, in the first instance, and killed a British marine. Captain Broke will long have cause to remember the treatment he experienced from this " magnanimous conquered foe. " So far, indeed, from the conduct of the British being " a most unwarrantable abuse of power after success, " Lieutenant Cox of the Chesapeake, in the hearing of several English gentlemen, subsequently admitted, that he owed his life to the forbearance of one of the Shannon's marines. When the American officers arrived on board the Shannon, and some of them were finding out reasons for being " taken so unaccountably , " their first lieutenant, Mr. Ludlow, candidly acknowledged, that the Shannon had beaten them heartily and fairly.

Although it would not do for an official document, like that we have just been quoting, to contain an admission, that any portion, any influential portion at least, of the crew of an American ship of war consisted of British seamen, the journalists, pamphleteers, and historians of the United States did not scruple to attribute to the defection of the latter, the unfortunate issue of the business with the Chesapeake. " There are no better sailors in the world, " says an American writer, " than our own ; and it seems hard that the war should be carried on for nothing but British sailors' rights, and that those same sailors should desert us in the moment of conflict. Cowardice is a species of treason. If renegado Englishmen are permitted to fight under our flag, it becomes prudent not to mix our own people with them to be destroyed ; for, at the critical moment when the boarders were called, the foreigners all ran below, while not a native American shrank from the conflict. " A writer in a Boston paper, after he has insisted, that the " native Americans " on board the Chesapeake " fought like heroes, " and that the British part of the crew " behaved treacherously, " very naturally asks, " Can any of your correspondents inform us, whether any Americans were on board the Shannon ? " We may answer, Yes, there were some (prisoners), in her hold ; although not so many, by several scores, as were in the hold of the Chesapeake, in a very few seconds after the Shannon's boarders sprang upon her quarterdeck.

But, had the Chesapeake, instead of 32, mustered 100, British men-of-war's men in her crew, we have not a doubt that the same result would have ensued. However expert and courageous these renegades may be when sheltered behind a bulwark,

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