Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XXII - Naval Operations and Civil Affairs in 1812.






Second Cruise of the President. – She chases a strange War-vessel. – A severe Battle. – Capture of the Macedonian. – Incidents of the Battle. – Comparison of the United States and the Macedonian. – Decatur’s Courtesy. – His Arrival with his Prize. – The Macedonian at New York. – Celebration of Decatur’s Victory. – Banquets in the City of New York. – Public Honors given to Decatur. – Gold Medal presented to Decatur by Congress. – Bainbridge in Command of a Squadron. – Biographical Sketch. – Bainbridge on the Coast of Brazil. – The Hornet challenges a British Vessel. – Cruise of the Constitution down the Coast. – Battle between the Constitution and the Java. – Incidents of the Battle. – Wreck and Capture of the Java. – The Losses of the Java. – Comparison of the two Vessels. – Arrival of the Constitution at Boston. – Honors given to Bainbridge. – Public Banquet in Boston. – Gifts of the Cities of New York and Albany. – Medal presented to Bainbridge by Congress. – Effect of the naval Battles in America and Great Britain. – James’s so-called "Histories" of the War. – Meeting of the Twelfth Congress. – The Administration sustained. – Madison re-elected. – Threats of Josiah Quincy in Congress. – The Policy and Leaders of the War Party denounced by Quincy. – Response by Henry Clay. – Clay’s Speech in Opposition to Quincy. – Measures for strengthening the Army and Navy. – Government Expenses. – Retaliatory Law. – Report of the Committee on Foreign Relations. – Manifesto of the Prince Regent. – Charges against the Government of the United States. – Proposition from Russia to mediate. – The Proposition entertained. – Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia. – Napoleon’s Disasters in Russia. – Rejoicings of the American Peace-party. – Commissioners to treat for Peace. – Cabinet Changes. – Armstrong chosen Secretary of War.


"The chiefs who our freedom sustained on the land,

Fame’s far-spreading voice has eternized in story;
By the roar of our cannon now called to the strand,
She beholds on the ocean their rivals in glory.
Her sons there she owns,
And her clarion’s bold tones
Tell of Hull and Decatur, of Bainbridge and Jones;
For the tars of Columbia are lords of the wave,
And have sworn that old Ocean’s their throne or their grave."


The victory won by the Wasp was followed, precisely a week later [October 25, 1812.], by another more important. Commodore Rodgers sailed in the President from Boston on a second cruise, after refitting, accompanied by the United States, 44, Captain Decatur, and Argus, 16, Lieutenant Commanding Sinclair, leaving the Hornet in port. The President parted company with her companions on the 12th of October, and on the 17th fell in with and captured the British packet Swallow. The United States and Argus, meanwhile, had also parted company with each other, and the former had sailed to the southward and eastward, hoping to intercept British West Indiamen. Decatur was soon gratified by better fortune in the estimation of a soldier. At dawn on Sunday morning, the 25th [October.], when in latitude 29° and west longitude 29° 30’, not far from the island of Madeira, the watch at the main-top discovered a sail to windward. There was a stiff breeze and a heavy sea on at the time. It was soon discovered that the stranger was an English ship-of-war, under a heavy press of sail. Decatur resolved to overtake and engage her, and for that purpose he spread all his canvas. The United States was a good sailer, and she rapidly reduced the distance between herself and the fugitive she was pursuing. The enthusiasm of her officers and men was unbounded; and as the gallant ship drew nearer and nearer to the enemy, shouts went up from the decks of the United States loud enough to be heard by the British before the American vessel was near enough to bring her guns to bear.

At about nine in the morning Decatur had so nearly overtaken his prospective antagonist that he opened a broadside upon her. The balls fell short. The United States was soon much nearer, when she opened another broadside with effect. This was responded to in kind. Both vessels were now on the same tack, and continued the action with a heavy and steady cannonade with the long guns of both, the distance between them being so great that carronades and muskets were of no avail for some time. Almost every shot of the United States fell fearfully on the enemy, who finally perceived that safety from utter destruction might only be found in closer quarters. When the contest had lasted about half an hour, the stranger, with mutilated spars and riddled sails, bore up gallantly for close action. The United States readily accepted the challenge, and very soon afterward her shot, sent by the direction of splendid gunnery, cut the enemy’s mizzen-mast so that it fell overboard. Not long afterward the main yard of the foe was seen hanging in two pieces, her main and fore top-masts were gone, her fore-mast was tottering, no colors were seen floating over her deck, and her main-mast and bowsprit were severely wounded, while the United States remained almost unhurt. The stranger’s fire had become feeble, and Decatur filled his mizzen-top-sail, gathered fresh way, tacked, and came up under the lee of the English ship, to the utter discomfiture of her commander, who, when he saw the American frigate bear away, supposed she was severely injured and about to flee from him. With that impression her crew gave three cheers; 1 but when the United States tacked and brought up in a position for more effectual action than before, the British commander, perceiving farther resistance to be vain, struck her colors and surrendered. As the United States crossed the stem of the vanquished vessel, Decatur hailed and demanded her name. "His majesty’s frigate Macedonian, 38, Captain John S. Carden," was the response. An officer was immediately sent on board. She had suffered terribly in every part during a combat of almost two hours. She had received no less than one hundred round shot in her hull alone, many of them between wind and water. She had nothing standing but her fore and main masts and fore yard. All her boats were rendered useless except one. Of her officers and crew, three hundred in number, thirty-six were killed and sixty-eight were wounded. 2 The loss of the United States was only five killed and six wounded. 3 The Macedonian was a very fine vessel of her class, only two years old, and, though rated at 36, she carried forty-nine guns – eighteen on her gun-deck and thirty-two pound carronades above. The United States mounted thirty long 24’s on her main deck, and twenty-two 42-pound carronades and two long 24’s on her quarter-deck and forecastle. She was manned with a crew of four hundred and seventy-eight. In men and metal the United States was heavier than the Macedonian, "but," says Cooper, "the disproportion between the force of the two vessels was much less than that between the execution." 4

Captain Carden fought his ship skillfully and bravely, and when he came on board the United States, and offered his sword to Captain Decatur, the latter generously remarked, "Sir, I can not receive the sword of a man who has so bravely defended his ship, but I will receive your hand." Suiting the action to the word, Decatur took the gallant Carden’s hand, and led him to his cabin, where refreshments were set out and partaken of in a friendly spirit by the two commanders. 5

When he took possession of his prize, Decatur found her not fatally injured, and he determined to abandon his cruise and take her into an American port. His own vessel was speedily repaired. The Macedonian was placed in the charge of Lieutenant Allen, who, with much ingenuity, so rigged her as to convert her into a barque, when captor and captive sailed for the United States. Decatur arrived off New London on the 4th of December, 6 and at about the same time his prize entered Newport Harbor.

"Then quickly met our nation’s eyes

The noblest sight in nature –
A first-rate frigate as a prize
Brought home by brave DECATUR." – OLD SONG.

Both vessels made their way through Long Island Sound, the East River, and Hell Gate, at the close of the month, and on the 1st of January, 1813, the Macedonian anchored in the harbor of New York, where she was greeted with great joy as a "New-year’s gift." "A more acceptable compliment could not have been presented to a joyous people," said one of the newspapers. "She comes with the compliments of the season from Old Neptune," said another. "Janus, the peace-loving, smiled," said a third, more classical. The excitement of a feast had then scarcely died away, for only three days before [December 29, 1812.] a splendid banquet had been given, at Gibson’s City Hotel, to Hull, Jones, and Decatur, by the Corporation and citizens of New York, 7 and the newspapers of the land speedily became the vehicles of the "effusions" of a score of poets, who caught inspiration from the shouts of triumph that filled the air. Woodworth, the printer-poet, and author of The Old Oaken, Bucket, "threw together, on the spur of the moment," as he said, a dozen stirring stanzas, of which the following is the first:

"The banner of Freedom high floated unfurl’d,
While the silver-tipp’d surges in low homage curl’d,
Flashing bright round the bow of Decatur’s brave bark,
In contest an eagle – in chasing, a lark."

And J. R. Calvert wrote a banquet-song, which became immensely popular, of which the following is the closing stanza:

"Now charge all your glasses with pure sparkling wine,

And toast our brave tars who so bravely defend us;
While our naval commanders so nobly combine,
We defy all the ills haughty foes e’er can send us!
While our goblets do flow,
The praises we owe
To Valor and Skill we will gladly bestow.
And may grateful the sons of Columbia be
To DECATUR, whom Neptune crowns Lord of the Sea!"

Decatur’s victory, following so closely upon others equally brilliant, produced the most profound sensations in the United States and in England. In the former they were impressions of encouragement and joy; in the latter, of disappointment and sorrow. The victor was highly applauded for his soldierly qualities and generosity by each service; and he was spoken of with the greatest enthusiasm by his countrymen. Public bodies, and the Legislatures of Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia gave him thanks, and to these each of the two latter added a sword. The same kind of weapon was presented to him by the city of Philadelphia; and the city of New York voted [December 17.] him the freedom of the city in addition to the honor of a banquet jointly with Hull and Jones, and requested his portrait for the picture gallery in the City Hall. The Corporation of New York also gave the gallant crew of the United States a banquet at the City Hotel. 8


The national Congress, by unanimous vote, thanked Decatur, and gave him a splendid gold medal, with appropriate devices and inscriptions. 9 From that time until now that commander’s name is the synonym of honor and gallantry in the estimation of his countrymen. His subsequent career added lustre to his renown as the conqueror of the Macedonian.

We have already observed that Hull generously retired from the command of the Constitution for the purpose of giving some brother-officer an opportunity for gallant achievements in her, and that Captain Bainbridge was his appointed successor. A small squadron, consisting of the Constitution, 44; Essex, 32; and Hornet, 18, were placed in his charge. When Bainbridge entered upon his duty in the new sphere of flag-officer, the Constitution and Hornet were lying in Boston Harbor, and the Essex, Captain Porter, was in the Delaware. Orders were sent to the latter to cruise in the track of the English West Indiamen, and at a specified time to rendezvous at certain ports, when, if he should not fall in with the flag-ship of the squadron, he would be at liberty to follow the dictates of his own judgment. Such contingency occurred, and the Essex sailed on a very long and most eventful cruise in the South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. That cruise will form the subject of a portion of a future chapter.

Bainbridge 10 sailed from Boston with the Constitution and Hornet on the 26th of October [1812.]. He touched at the appointed rendezvous, 11 and arrived off Bahia, or San Salvador, Brazil, 12 on the 13th of December. He immediately sent in Captain Lawrence, with the Hornet, to communicate with the American consul there, when that commander discovered in the port the English sloop-of-war Bonne Citoyenne, 18, Captain Greene, about to sail for England with a very large amount of specie. Lawrence invited Greene to go out upon the open sea with his vessel and fight, pledging himself that the Constitution should take no part in the combat, but the British commander prudently declined the invitation. The Hornet then took a position to blockade the English sloop, and the Constitution departed [December 26.] for a cruise down the coast of Brazil, keeping the land aboard. Three days afterward, at about nine o’clock in the morning, when in latitude 13° 6’ south and longitude 38° west, or about thirty miles from shore, southeasterly of San Salvador, Bainbridge discovered two vessels in shore and to the windward. The larger one was seen to alter her course, with an evident desire for a meeting with the Constitution. The latter was willing to gratify her, and for that purpose tacked and stood toward the stranger. At meridian they both showed their colors and displayed signals, but the latter were mutually unintelligible. The stranger was seen to be an English frigate. Bainbridge at once prepared for action, when the Englishman hauled down his colors, but left a jack flying. Both ships ran upon the same tack, about a mile apart, when, at almost two o’clock, the British frigate bore down upon the Constitution with the intention of raking her. The latter wore and avoided the calamity, and at two o’clock, both ships being on the same tack, the Constitution fired a single gun across the enemy’s bow to draw out her ensign again. A general cannonade from both vessels immediately ensued, and a furious battle was commenced. When it had raged half an hour the wheel of the Constitution was shot away, and her antagonist, being the better sailer, had a great advantage for a time. But Bainbridge managed his crippled ship with such skill that she was the first in coming to the wind on the other tack, and speedily obtained a position for giving her opponent a terrible raking fire. The combatants now ran free with the wind on their quarter, the stranger being to the windward of the Constitution. At about three o’clock the stranger attempted to close by running down on the Constitution’s quarter. Her jib-boom penetrated the latter’s mizzen rigging, but suffered most severely without receiving the least advantage. She lost her jib-boom and the head of her bowsprit by shots from the Constitution, and in a few minutes the latter poured a heavy raking broadside into the stern of her antagonist. This was followed by another, when the fore-mast of the English frigate went by the board, crashing through the forecastle and main deck in its passage. At that moment the Constitution shot ahead, keeping away to avoid being raked, and finally, after manœuvring for the greater part of an hour, she forereached her antagonist, wore, passed her, and luffed up under her quarter. Then the two vessels lay broadside to broadside, engaged in deadly conflict, yard-arm to yard-arm. Very soon the enemy’s mizzen-mast was shot away, leaving nothing standing but the main-mast, whose yard had been carried away near the slings. The stranger’s fire now ceased, and the Constitution passed out of the combat of almost two hours’ duration at a few minutes past four o’clock, with the impression on the mind of her commander that the colors of the English frigate had been struck. Being in a favorable weatherly position, Bainbridge occupied an hour in repairing damages and securing his masts, when he observed an ensign still fluttering on board of his antagonist, He immediately ordered the Constitution to wear round and renew the conflict. Perceiving this movement, the Englishman hauled down his colors, and at six o’clock in the evening First Lieutenant George Parker 13 was sent on board to inquire her name and to take possession of her as a prize. 14 She proved to be the Java, 38, Captain Henry Lambert, and one of the finest frigates in the British navy. She was bearing, as passenger to the East Indies, Lieutenant General Hyslop (just appointed governor general of Bombay), and his staff, Captain Marshall and Lieutenant Saunders, of the Royal Navy, and more than one hundred other officers and men destined for service in the East Indies.

The Java was a wreck. Her main-mast had gone overboard during the hour that Bainbridge was repairing. Tier mizzen-mast was shot out of the ship close by the deck, and the fore-mast was carried away about twenty-five feet above it. The bowsprit was cut off near the cap, and she was found to be leaking badly on account of wounds in her hull by round shot. The Constitution was very much cut in her sails and rigging. Many of her spars were injured, but not one was lost. She went into the action with her royal yards across, and came out of it with all three of them in their proper places. There are conflicting accounts concerning the loss of the Java in men. Her commander, Captain Lambert, was mortally wounded, and her other officers were cautious about the number of her men and her casualties. According to a muster-roll found on board of her, made out five days after she sailed, her officers and crew numbered four hundred and forty-six. These were exclusive of the more than one hundred passengers, many of whom assisted in the engagement, and of whom thirteen were killed. The British published account states the loss of men on the Java to have been twenty-two killed, and one hundred and one wounded, while Bainbridge reported her loss, as nearly as he could ascertain from the British officers at the time, at sixty killed, and one hundred and one wounded. This was, doubtless, below the real number. Indeed, Bainbridge inclosed to the Secretary of the Navy evidences of a much larger loss in wounded. It was a letter, written by one of the officers of the Java to a friend, and accidentally dropped on the deck of the Constitution, where it was found and handed to Bainbridge. The writer, who had no motive of public policy for concealing any thing from his friend, stated the loss to be sixty-five killed, and one hundred and seventy wounded. 15 The Constitution lost only nine killed and twenty-five wounded. Bainbridge was slightly hurt in the hip by a musket-ball; and the shot that carried away the wheel of the Constitution drove a small copper bolt into his thigh, which inflicted a dangerous wound, but did not cause him to leave the deck before midnight.

The Java, as has been observed, was a superior frigate of her class. She was rated at thirty-eight, but carried forty-nine. The Constitution carried at that time forty-five guns, and had one man less at each than the Java. On the whole, the preponderance of strength was with the latter. Bainbridge might have saved the hull of his prize by taking it into San Salvador, but, having proof that the Brazilian government was favorable to that of Great Britain, he would not trust the captured frigate there. He was too far from home to think of conducting her to an American port; so, after lying by the Java for two days, until the wounded and prisoners, with their baggage, could all be transferred to the Constitution, he ordered the battered frigate to be fired. She blew up on the 31st, when Bainbridge proceeded to San Salvador with his prisoners, and found the Bonne Citoyenne about to attempt passing the Hornet and putting to sea. His arrival frustrated the plan. Having landed and paroled his prisoners [January 3, 1813.], Bainbridge sailed for the United States on the 6th of January, 1813. 16

The Constitution arrived at Boston on Monday, the 15th of February, and Bainbridge immediately dispatched Lieutenant Ludlow with a letter to the Secretary of the Navy. When Bainbridge landed he was greeted with the roar of artillery and the acclamations of thousands of citizens. A procession was formed, and he was escorted to the Exchange Coffee-house, the bands playing Yankee Doodle, and the throngs in the streets, balconies, and windows cheering loudly, the ladies waving their handkerchiefs. The streets were strung with banners and streamers, and Commodores Rodgers and Hull, who walked with Bainbridge in the procession, received a share of the popular honors. The victory was announced at the theatre that night, and produced the wildest enthusiasm. The Legislature of Massachusetts being in session, they passed a resolution of thanks to Bainbridge and his officers and crew, 17 and on the 2d of March a splendid banquet was given at the Exchange Coffee-house to Bainbridge and the officers of the Constitution. 18

The capture of the Java, the fourth brilliant naval victory in a brief space of time, caused great exultation throughout the United States, and the Constitution was popularly called from that time Old Ironsides. Orators and rhymers, the pulpit and the press, made the gallant exploits of Bainbridge the theme of many words in verse and prose. 19


The Common Council of New York presented to him the freedom of the city in a gold box, 20 and ordered his portrait painted for the picture-gallery in the City Hall. 21


The city of Albany did the same; 22 and the citizens of Philadelphia presented him with an elegant service of silver plate, the most costly piece of which was a massive urn, elegantly wrought. 23 The Congress of the United States voted their thanks to Bainbridge and his companions in arms, and also fifty thousand dollars in money, because of the necessary destruction of their prize. They also ordered a gold medal to be struck in honor of the commander, 24 and silver ones for each of his officers, in token of the national approbation of their conduct.


The conflict between the Constitution and Java was the closing naval engagement of the year, and, with the previous victories won by the Americans, made the deepest impressions upon the public mind in both hemispheres. The United States cruisers, public and private, had captured about three hundred prizes from the British during that first six months of war. The American war-party – indeed, the whole American people, excepting a few Submissionists, were made exultant by these events, and the gloom caused by the failure of the land forces was dispelled. The views of the Federalists, who had always favored a navy, were justified, and the opposition to it, on the part of the Democrats, ceased. The British people were astounded by these heavy and ominous blows dealt at their supremacy of the seas, and some of the leading newspapers scattered curses broadcast. One of them, a leading London paper, with that vulgarity which too often disgraced journalism on both sides of the Atlantic at that time, petulantly expressed its apprehensions that England might be stripped of her maritime superiority "by a piece of striped bunting flying at the mast-head of a few fir-built frigates, manned by a handful of bastards and outlaws!"

But this impotent rage soon subsided, and British writers and speakers, compelled to acknowledge the equality of the American people in all that constitutes the true greatness of a nation, labored hard to show that in all cases the American vessels, in force of men and metal, were greatly superior to those of the British encountered. They even went so far as to assert that the American frigates were all "seventy-fours in disguise!" These assertions were iterated and reiterated long after the war had ceased, to the amusement of thoughtful men, who clearly perceived the truth when the smoke had cleared away. The most notable exhibition of this folly is seen in three volumes, one on the naval and two on the military occurrences of that war, written by William James. These, as we have observed, were among the earliest of the elaborate writings concerning that war, and have, ever since their appearance, been the most frequently quoted by those British and British-American writers and speakers who delight in abusing the government and people of the United States. The spirit manifested on every page bears evidence of the poverty of the author in all that constitutes a candid and veracious historian. 25

Having now considered in groups the military and naval events of the war during the first year of the contest, excepting those in the extreme southern boundaries of the Republic, which will be noticed hereafter, let us glance at the civil affairs of the United States, having relation to the subject in question, before entering upon a description of the stirring campaign of 1813.

The second session of the Twelfth Congress commenced on the 2d day of November [1812.]. It was the eve of the popular election of Presidential electors. President Madison had been nominated for the office for a second term by a Congressional caucus, as we have already observed, 26 as the Democratic candidate; and the Legislature of New York had nominated De Witt Clinton, a nephew of the late Vice-president, and of the same political faith, for the same office. The Federalists, conscious of their inability to elect a candidate of their own, coalesced with the Clintonian Democrats. This course was decided upon in a Convention of Federalist leaders from all the states north of the Potomac, held in secret session, in the city of New York, in September [1812.]. If the war must go on, they regarded Clinton as the possessor of greater executive ability than Madison, and better able to conduct it vigorously; but their chief desire and hope was to bring about an early peace by the defeat of Madison, the repeal of the British Orders in Council 27 having opened a door for that consummation so devoutly wished for. Jared Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, a moderate Federalist, was nominated by the Convention for Vice-president. George Clinton having died, Elbridge Gerry, as we have seen, 28 was nominated for Vice-president by the Madisonians.

When the elections occurred, nearly all the Federalists and a fraction of the Democratic party voted for the Clintonian electors. All of the New England States, excepting Vermont, chose such electors. 29 New York did the same, in consequence of the adroit management of Martin Van Buren, a politician thirty years of age, who then appeared prominently for the first time. 30 There was a similar result in New Jersey, and for a time the re-election of Madison appeared doubtful. But before Congress had been in session six weeks it was definitely ascertained, from the official canvass, that Madison had one hundred and twenty-eight out of the two hundred and eighteen electors chosen, and that a large majority of the Congressmen elect were friends of the administration. This result was regarded, under the circumstances, as a very strong expression of the public in favor of the war; and the war-party in and out of Congress were greatly strengthened. They were also encouraged by the aspect of affairs abroad. Intelligence of apparent disasters to the English in Spain, the triumph of Bonaparte in the terrible battle of Borodino, and his victorious march upon Moscow, filled them with the hope that England, struggling with all Europe against her, must speedily be compelled to withdraw her soldiers and seamen from America, and give up the contest here, or else fall a prey to the conquering Corsican. But they were doomed to an early disappointment of their hopes by disasters that fell thick and fast upon the French army, exposed to Russian snows and Russian cohorts. It was evident, too, from the returns of the late elections, that the Opposition were growing stronger every day.

Among the earliest national measures proposed in Congress was a plan for increasing the army twenty thousand men, making the whole establishment fifty-six thousand. The President, in his fourth annual message [November 4, 1812.], after giving a general statement of the position of affairs in relation to the war, called the attention of the national Legislature to the necessity of measures for the vigorous prosecution of it. A bill was introduced into the House of Representatives to raise the pay of private soldiers from six to eight dollars a month, to guarantee recruits against arrest for debt, and to give them their option to enlist for five years or for the war. In the same bill was a clause allowing the enlistment of minors without the consent of their parents or masters. This elicited a very spirited debate, in which Josiah Quincy engaged with his usual vigor. He declared it to be an interference with the rights of parents and masters, and warned the House that if the bill passed with that "atrocious principle" contained in it, it would be met in New England by the state laws against kidnapping and man-stealing. He opposed it as bearing particularly hard upon the North, where the laborers are the yeomanry and the minors, while at the South the laborers were slaves, and exempted by law from military duty. The planter of the South, he said, can look around upon his fifty, his hundred, and his thousand human beings, and say, "These are my property" – property tilling the land, and enriching the owner in war as well as in peace; while the farmer of the North has "only one or two ewe lambs – his children, of which he can say, and say with pride, like the Roman matron, ‘These are my ornaments.’ " These, by the proposed law, might be taken from him, and his land must remain untilled. 31

Williams, of South Carolina, the chairman of the Military Committee, retorted fiercely. In reply to Quincy’s assertion that the bill contained an "atrocious principle," he charged the great Federal leader with uttering an "atrocious falsehood." His language was so offensively supercilious that it drew admonitions even from John Randolph. He argued well in favor of an increase of the army. "The British regular force in the Canadas," he said, "could not be estimated less than twelve thousand men. In addition to these were the Canadian militia, amounting to several thousands, and three thousand regulars at Halifax. To drive this force from the field, the St. Lawrence must be crossed with a well-appointed army of twenty thousand men, supported by an army of reserve of ten thousand. Peace is not to be expected but at the expense of a vigorous and successful war. Administrations have in vain sued for it, even at the expense of the sarcastic sneers of the British minister. The campaign of 1813 must open in a style and vigor calculated to inspire confidence in ourselves and awe in the enemy. Nothing must be left to chance; our movements must every where be in concert. At the same moment we move on Canada, a corps of ten thousand men must threaten Halifax from the province of Maine. The honor and character of the nation require that the British power on our borders should be annihilated the next campaign. Her American provinces once wrested from her, every attempt to recover them will be chimerical, except by negotiation. The road to peace thus lies through Canada." The bill passed the House of Representatives, but the objectionable clause received only four votes in the Senate.

The expensive volunteer system was taken up in Congress, and the law authorizing the employment of that species of soldiers was repealed. Another was substituted, which authorized the enlistment of twenty regiments of regulars to serve twelve months, to whom a bounty of sixteen dollars should be given. It also provided for the appointment of six major generals and six brigadier generals, and a corresponding increase of subordinate officers. Party spirit was aroused in the debate that ensued, and the discussion took a range so wide as to include the whole policy and conduct of the war. Mr. Quincy led off [January 5, 1813.] with great bitterness and the keenest sarcasm. "He denounced the invasion of Canada," says Hildreth, 32 "as a cruel, wanton, senseless, and wicked attack, in which neither plunder nor glory was to be gained, upon an unoffending people, bound to us by ties of blood and good neighborhood; undertaken for the punishment, over their shoulders, of another people three thousand miles off, by young politicians fluttering and cackling on the floor of that house, half hatched, the shell still on their heads, and their pin-feathers not yet shed – politicians to whom reason, justice, pity, were nothing, revenge every thing; bad policy, too, since the display of such a grasping spirit only tended to alienate from us that large minority of the British people anxious to compel their ministers to respect our maritime rights. So thought the people of New England, and hence the difficulty of getting recruits. The toad-eaters of the palace – party men in pursuit of commissions, fat contracts, judgeships, and offices for themselves, their fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, and cousins – might assert otherwise, but the people had spoken in the late elections. There were in New England multitudes of judicious, patriotic, honest, sober men, who, if their judgments and their consciences went with the war, would rush to the standard of their country at the winding of a horn, but to whom the present call sounded rather as a jewsharp or a banjo. . . . . . If the government would confine itself to a war of defense, it should have his support; but for a war of conquest and annexation, whether in East Florida 33 or Canada, he would not contribute a single dollar. Nor was he to be frightened from this ground by the old state cry of British connection, raised anew by a pack of mangy, mongrel blood-hounds, for the most part of very recent importation, their necks still marked with the collar, and their backs sore with the stripes of European castigation, kept in pay by the administration to hunt down all who opposed the court."

This contemptuous speech drew a most vigorous reply from Mr. Clay, the Speaker of the House, who felt himself specially aimed at by the expression "unfledged politicians." He charged the Federalists, says Hildreth, "with always, throughout the whole controversy with Great Britain, thwarting the plans of their own government; clamoring alike against the embargo, against the non-intercourse, against the non-importation; when the government were at peace, crying out for war; and, now the government were at war, crying out for peace; falsely charging the President with being under French influence; 34 heaping all kinds of abuse on Bonaparte; assailing Jefferson with impotent rage; spiriting up chimeras of Southern influence and Virginia dictation, as if the people did not choose their own presidents; going even so far as to plot the dissolution of the Union." Mr. Clay then presented a most pathetic picture of the wrongs inflicted upon, and miseries endured by, American seamen under the operations of the impressment system, to which Great Britain clung tenaciously. "As to the gentleman’s sentimental protest against the invasion of Canada," he said in substance," was Canada so innocent, after all? Was it not in Canada that the Indian tomahawks were whetted? Was it not from Malden and other Canadian magazines that the supplies had issued which had enabled the savage bands to butcher the garrison of Chicago? Was it not by a joint attack of Canadians and Indians that Michillimackinac had been reduced? What does a state of war present? The combined energies of one people arrayed against the combined energies of another, each aiming to inflict all the injury it can, whether by sea or land, upon the territories, property, and persons of the other, subject only to those mitigated usages practiced among civilized nations. The gentleman would not touch the British Continental possessions, nor, for the same reason, it was supposed, her West India islands. By the same rule, her innocent soldiers and sailors ought to be protected; and as, according to a well-known maxim, the king could do no wrong, there would seem to be nobody left whom, on the gentleman’s principles, we could attack, unless it were Mr. Stephen, 35 the reputed author of the Orders in Council, or the Board of Admiralty, under whose authority our seamen were impressed." . . . . Mr. Clay’s "plan was," he said, "to call out the ample resources of the country to the fullest extent, to strike wherever the enemy could be reached, by sea or land, and to negotiate a peace at Quebec or Halifax."

Measures were adopted for strengthening both the army and navy, and the more perfect organization of each. The President was authorized to cause the construction of four ships of seventy-four guns each, and six frigates and six sloops-of-war; 36 to issue treasury notes to the amount of five millions of dollars, and to create a new stock for a loan of sixteen millions of dollars. 37 A bill was also passed, chiefly through the untiring efforts of Langdon Cheves and John C. Calhoun, representatives from South Carolina, by which the bonds of merchants given for goods imported from Great Britain and Ireland after the declaration of war, and seized under the provisions of the Non-importation Act, were canceled. For six weeks after the news of war reached England exportations had been allowed to go on; 38 and the goods to which the law in question would apply were valued, at invoice prices, at more than eighteen millions of dollars, and were worth double that amount in the American market. This act conciliated the mercantile interest.

Cheves, who was chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, endeavored to procure a partial repeal of the Non-importation Act, but failed. The restrictive system was regarded with great favor as a powerful weapon in the hands of the Americans, and its friends adhered to it with the greatest tenacity, believing it to be a policy potent in hastening the ruin of England. The Federalists failed to support the measure because the repeal was not complete, and on account of the provision in it for the more strict enforcement of what was left.

We have already observed that a retaliatory law, first suggested by Colonel Scott on account of some prisoners taken at Queenston, and who had been sent to England as deserters because they were Irishmen, was passed. 39 It was so framed as not only to meet the special case of those persons, but such Indian outrages under British sanction as had been committed at the River Raisin. 40 Happily, there was no occasion for enforcing the law.

On the 13th of January, Mr. Calhoun, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, made an able report. It had been looked for with great interest. In that report the subject of impressment held a conspicuous place. The President, as we have observed, only a week after the declaration of war [June 26, 1812.], proposed an immediate armistice, on conditions at once just and honorable to both nations. It was rejected by the British in terms of peculiar reproach and insult. At about the same time the British Orders in Council were repealed conditionally, but the practice of impressment was defended as just and expedient, and would not be allowed to become a subject for negotiation by the British authorities. Thus matters stood when the Report on Foreign Relations was presented. After alluding to the above facts, the committee proceeded to say that "the impressment of our seamen, being deservedly considered a principal cause of the war, the war ought to be prosecuted until that cause be removed. To appeal to arms in defense of a right, and to lay them down without securing it, or a satisfactory evidence of a good disposition in the opposite party to secure it, would be considered in no other light than a relinquishment of it. . . . The manner in which the friendly advances and liberal propositions of the Executive have been received by the British government has, in a great measure, extinguished the hope of amicable accommodations. . . . War having been declared, and the case of impressment being necessarily included as one of the most important causes, it is evident it must be provided for in the pacification. The omission of it in a treaty of peace would not leave it on its former ground; it would, in effect, be an absolute relinquishment, an idea at which the feelings of every American must revolt. The seamen of the United States have a claim on their country for protection, and they must be protected. If a single ship is taken at sea, and the property of an American citizen wrested from him unjustly, it rouses the indignation of the country. How much more deeply, then, ought we to be excited when we behold so many of this gallant and highly meritorious class of our fellow-citizens snatched from their families and country, and carried into a cruel and afflicting bondage? It is an evil which ought not, which can not be longer tolerated. Without dwelling on the sufferings of the victims, or on that wide scene of distress which it spreads among their relatives through the country, the practice is, in itself, in the highest degree degrading to the United States as a nation. It is incompatible with their sovereignty; it is subversive of the main pillars of their independence. The forbearance of the United States under it has been mistaken for pusillanimity."

To effect a change in the British policy respecting impressments, the committee recommended the passage of an act, which was appended to their report, similar to one proposed by Mr. Russell to Lord Castlereagh several months before, prohibiting, after the close of the present war, the employment, in public or private vessels, of any persons except American citizens, this prohibition to extend only to the subjects or citizens of such states as should make reciprocal regulations. An act to that effect, which passed the House on the 12th of February, was adopted by the Senate on the last day of the session [March 3, 1813.], against very warm opposition of some of the war-party, who considered it as a humiliating concession.

Only four days before the presentation of their report [January 13.] by the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Prince Regent, acting sovereign of Great Britain, issued a manifesto [January 9.] concerning the causes of the war, and the subjects of blockade and impressment. He declared that the war was not the consequence of any fault of Great Britain, but that it had been brought on by the partial conduct of the American government in overlooking the aggressions of the French, and in their negotiations with them. He alleged that a quarrel with Great Britain had been sought because she had adopted measures solely as retaliative as toward France; and that, as those measures had been abandoned by a repeal of the Orders in Council, the war was now continued on the question of impressment and search. On this point the Prince Regent took such a decisive position, that the door for negotiation which the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs proposed to open seemed irrevocably shut. "His royal highness," said the manifesto from his palace at Westminster, "can never admit that in the exercise of the undoubted and hitherto undisputed 41 right of searching neutral merchant vessels in time of war, and the impressment of British seamen when found therein, can be deemed any violation of a neutral flag, neither can he admit the taking of such seamen from on board such vessels can be considered by any neutral state as a hostile measure or a justifiable cause of war." After reaffirming the old English doctrine of the impossibility of self-expatriation of a British subject, the manifesto continued: "But if, to the practice of the United States to harbor British seamen, be added their assumed right to transfer the allegiance of British subjects, and thus to cancel the jurisdiction of their legitimate sovereign by acts of naturalization and certificates of citizenship, which they pretend to be as valid out of their own territory as within it, 42 it is obvious that to abandon this ancient right of Great Britain, and to admit these naval pretensions of the United States, would be to expose the very foundations of our maritime strength."

The manifesto charged the United States government with systematic efforts to inflame their people against Great Britain, of ungenerous conduct toward Spain, Great Britain’s ally, and of deserting the cause of neutrality. "This disposition of the government of the United States – this complete subserviency to the ruler of France – this hostile temper toward Great Britain," said the prince, "are evident in almost every page of the official correspondence of the American with the French government. Against this course of conduct, the real cause of the present war, the Prince Regent solemnly protests. While contending against France in defense not only of the liberties of Great Britain, but of the world, his Royal Highness was entitled to look for a far different result. From their common origin – from their common interest – from their professed principles of freedom and independence, the United States was the last power in which Great Britain could have expected to find a willing instrument and abettor of French tyranny." 43

This manifesto, adroitly framed for effect in the United States as well as at home, was approved by both houses of Parliament, and sustained in an address to the throne. It reached America at about the close of the twelfth Congress, and its avowals of the intended adherence of the British government to the practice of impressment stood before the people side by side with the declarations of the report of their Committee on Foreign Affairs, in which it was declared that it was against that practice the war was waging, and that it ought to be waged until the nefarious business was abandoned by the enemy.

While pondering these documents, the Americans were suddenly called by the march of events to contemplate other most important subjects in connection with the war. John Quincy Adams was then the American minister at the Russian court. His relations with the Emperor Alexander were intimate and cordial. When intelligence of the declaration of war reached St. Petersburg the Czar expressed his regret. On account of the French invasion of his territory he was on friendly terms with Great Britain, and his prime minister, Romanzoff, suggested to Mr. Adams [September 20, 1812.] the expediency of tendering the mediation of Russia for the purpose of effecting a reconciliation. Mr. Adams favored it, but for a while the victorious march of Bonaparte toward Moscow, the heart of the Russian empire, delayed the measure. The final defeat of the invader secured present tranquillity to the Czar, and he sent instructions to M. Daschkoff, his representative at Washington, to offer to the United States his friendly services in bringing about a peace. This was formally done on the 8th of March, 1813, only four days after President Madison, in his second inaugural address, had laudably endeavored to excite anew the enthusiasm of the people in the vigorous prosecution of the war.

At about this time official intelligence had been received by the government of the result of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. He had indeed reached Moscow after fearful sufferings and losses, but when he rode into that ancient capital of the Muscovites at the head of his staff, on the 15th of September, it was as silent as the Petrified City of the Eastern tale. The inhabitants had withdrawn, and the great Kremlin in which he slept that night was as cheerless as a magnificent mausoleum. His slumbers were soon disturbed. The Russians had not all left. For hours a hundred unlighted torches had been held by the hands of Russian incendiaries. When the great bell of the metropolitan cathedral toiled out the hour of midnight, these were kindled by flint and steel, and instantly a hundred fires glared fearfully from every direction upon the couch of the great Corsican. The city was every where in flames, and the wearied French army were compelled to seek shelter in the desolate country around the blackened ruins of that splendid town.

On that fearful night the star of Napoleon’s destiny had reached its meridian. Ever afterward it was seen slowly descending, in waning splendor, the paths of the western sky. He perceived in the destruction of Moscow the fearful perils of his situation, and sought to avert them. He proposed terms of peaceful adjustment, but the emperor flung them back with scorn. Retreat or destruction was the alternative. He chose the former; and late in October, with one hundred and twenty thousand men, he turned his face toward France. For a few days the sky was clear and the atmosphere was genial. Then came biting frosts and blinding snow-storms, while clouds of fiery Cossacks smote his legions on flank and rear with deadly blows. Suffering and death held high carnival among the fugitives. Bonaparte saw that all was lost, and he hastened to France, bearing almost the first intelligence of the terrible disaster. He lost during the campaign one hundred and twenty-five thousand slain in battle, one hundred and thirty-two thousand by fatigue, hunger, disease, and cold, and one hundred and ninety-three thousand made prisoners; in all, four hundred and fifty thousand men! Notwithstanding this fearful loss of life, he had scarcely reached Paris when he issued an order for a general conscription, in number sufficient to take the places of the dead. At the same time Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, and Spain coalesced for the purpose of striking the crippled conqueror a crushing blow, and early in 1813 they sent large armies toward the Elbe to oppose him. His conscripts were already in the field, and with three hundred and fifty thousand men he invaded Germany, fought and won the great battle of Lutzen [May 2, 1813.], and, after other conflicts, seated himself in Dresden, agreeably to an armistice, and listened to offers of mediation on the part of Austria, with a view to closing the war.

The intelligence from Europe was disheartening to the war-party, for it was evident that the coalition of the great powers of Europe against the French would so relieve England that she might prosecute the war in America with great vigor. The President had been at all times anxious for peace on honorable terms. He perceived a chance for its accomplishment through Russian mediation, and he at once accepted the offer of M. Daschkoff. That acceptance was followed by the nomination of Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury, and James A. Bayard, a representative of Delaware in the Senate of the United States, as commissioners or envoys extraordinary, to act jointly with Mr. Adams to negotiate a treaty of peace with Great Britain at St. Petersburg. At the same time, William H. Crawford, of Georgia, a Peace Democrat, was appointed to succeed the lately deceased Joel Barlow 44 as minister at the French court. Of the result of the efforts for peace through Russian mediation I shall hereafter write.

The reverses of Napoleon, as we have observed, discouraged the war-party, and gave corresponding joy to the Federalists, especially to the wing of that organization known as the Peace-party, whose head-quarters were at Boston. There they celebrated the Russian triumphs with public rejoicings. 45 In other places, too, these victories were hailed with joy, and became the themes for song and oratory, 46 to the great disgust of the war-party and their newspaper organs, who censured the President for his haste in snatching at Russian mediation.

During the session of Congress which closed on the 3d of March, 1813, there had been some important changes in President Madison’s Cabinet. Public clamor against him had caused Dr. Eustis to resign the War bureau, and the affairs of that department were conducted for several weeks by Mr. Monroe, the Secretary of State. John Armstrong, who had been appointed a brigadier general in the army of the United States, and succeeded General Bloomfield in command at New York, was appointed Secretary of War [January 13, 1813.], and Paul Hamilton was dismissed from the Navy Department to make way for William Jones [January 12.], who had been a ship-master in earlier life, was an active Philadelphia politician of the Democratic school, and at the time was Commissary of Purchases for the army. Madison’s Cabinet, at the opening of the campaign of 1813, was composed as follows: James Monroe, Secretary of State; John Armstrong, Secretary of War; William Jones, Secretary of the Navy; Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury; and William Pinkney, Attorney General.



1 The cannonade by the United States was so incessant that her side toward the enemy seemed to be in a blaze. Carden supposed she was on fire, and this belief caused the exultation on his ship. A contemporary rhymer wrote as follows:

"For Carden thought he had us tight,

Just so did Dacres too, sirs,
But brave Decatur put him right
With Yankee doodle doo, sirs.
They thought they saw our ship in flame,
Which made them all huzza, sirs,
But when the second broadside came,
It made them hold their jaws, sirs."

See an allusion to this battle in Note 1, page 140, quoted from Cobbett’s Register.

2 Captain Carden thus stated his casualties: "Killed: 1 master’s mate, the school-master, 23 petty officers and seamen, 2 boys, 1 sergeant, and 7 privates of marines – total, 36. Wounded dangerously: 7 petty officers and seamen. Severely: 1 lieutenant, 1 midshipman, 18 petty officers and seamen, 4 boys, and 5 private marines – total, dangerously and severely, 36. Wounded slightly: 1 lieutenant, 1 master’s mate, 26 petty officers and seamen, and 4 private marines – total, 32. According to the muster-roll found on board of the Macedonian, she had seven impressed American seamen among her crew, two of whom were killed in the action. Another had been drowned at sea, while compelled to assist in boarding an American vessel. Their names were Christopher Dodge, Peter Johnson, John Alexander, C. Dolphin, Mayer Cook, William Thompson, John Wallis, and John Card. During the whole war, American seamen, similarly situated, were compelled to fight against their countrymen. When the fact became known that there were impressed Americans on the Macedonian, the exasperation of the people against Great Britain, because of her nefarious practice, was intensified.

3 Killed: Boatswain’s mate, 1 seaman, and 3 marines. Wounded: 1 lieutenant, 4 seamen, and 1 marine. The lieutenant (John M. Funk) and one seaman (John Archibald) died of their wounds.

The following is a list of the officers of the United States: Commander, Stephen Decatur. Lieutenants, William H. Allen, John Gallagher, John M. Funk, George C. Read, Walter Wooster, John B. Nicholson. Sailing-master, John D. Sloat. Surgeon, Samuel H. Trevitt. Surgeon’s Mate, Samuel Vernon. Purser, John B. Timberlake. Midshipmen, John Stansbury, Joseph Cassin, Philip Voorhees, John P. Zantzinger, Richard Delphy, Dugan Taylor, Richard S. Heath, Edward F. Howell, Archibald Hamilton, John M‘Can, H. Z. W. Harrington, William Jamieson, Lewis Hinchman, Benjamin S. Williams. Gunner, Thomas Barry. Lieutenants of Marines, William Anderson, James L. Edwards.

There was a boy only twelve years of age on board the United States, the son of a brave seaman, whose death had left the lad’s mother in poverty. When the crew were clearing the ship for action, the boy stepped up to Decatur and said, "I wish my name may be put down on the roll, sir." "Why so, my lad!" asked the commander. "So that I may have a share of the prize-money," was the earnest reply. Pleased with the spirit of the boy, Decatur granted his request. The boy behaved gallantly throughout the contest. At the close of the action Decatur said to him, "Well, Bill, we have taken the ship, and your share of the prize-money may be about two hundred dollars; * what will you do with it?" "I will send half to my mother, and the other half shall send me to school." The commander was so pleased with the right spirit of the boy that he took him under his protection, procured a midshipman’s berth for him, and superintended his education. – Putnam’s Life of Decatur, page 193.

* Congress decreed that in the distribution of prize-money arising from capture by national vessels, one half should go to the United States, and the other half, divided into twenty equal parts, should be distributed in the following manner: to captains, 3 parts; to the sea lieutenants and sailing-masters, 2 parts; to the marine officers, surgeons, pursers, boatswains, gunners, carpenters, master’s mates, and chaplains, 2 parts; to midshipmen, surgeon’s mates, captain’s clerks, school-master, boatswain’s mates, gunner’s mates, carpenter’s mates, steward, sail-makers; master at arms, armorers, and coxswains, 3 parts; to gunner’s yeomen, boatswain’s yeomen, quarter-masters, quarter-gunners, coopers, sail-maker’s mates, sergeants and corporals of marines, drummers and fifers, and extra petty officers, 3 parts; to seamen, ordinary seamen, marines, and boys, 7 parts.

4 Naval History of the United States, ii., 179. See the official dispatches of Decatur and Carden; Clark’s Naval History; Waldo’s Life of Stephen Decatur; The War; Niles’s Register; Memoir of Decatur, in the Analectic Magazine, i., 502.

5 All of the private property of the officers and men of the Macedonian was given up to them. Among other things claimed and received by Captain Carden was a band of music and several casks of wine, the whole valued at eight hundred dollars. Of this generous conduct Captain Carden spoke in the highest terms. Hull’s generosity to Captain Dacres, as we have seen, elicited the praise of that officer. The American newspapers called attention to the fact that the British commander of the Poictiers, when he captured the Wasp and her prize from Jones, would not permit officers or men to retain any thing except the clothes on their backs. See The War, i., 115.

Decatur and Carden had met before. It was in the harbor of Norfolk, just before the beginning of the war, that they were introduced to each other. Before they parted Carden said to Decatur, "We now meet as friends; God grant we may never meet as enemies; but we are subject to the orders of our governments, and must obey them." "I heartily reciprocate the sentiment," replied Decatur. "But what, sir," said Carden, "would be the consequence to yourself and the force you command if we should meet as enemies?" "Why, sir," responded Decatur, in the same playful spirit, "if we meet with forces that might be fairly called equal, the conflict would be severe, but the flag of my country on the ship I command shall never leave the staff on which it waves as long as there is a hull to support it." They parted, and their next meeting was on the deck of the United States, under the circumstances recorded in the text.

John Surman Carden was born on the 15th of August, 1771, at Templemore, Ireland. His father, Major Carden, of the British army, perished in the war of the American Revolution. This, his eldest son, entered the British navy as captain’s servant in 1788 in the ship Edgar. In 1790 he became midshipman in the Perseverance frigate. He was made lieutenant in 1794. He received the commission of commander in 1798. He was appointed to the command of the Ville de Paris in 1808, and in 1811 to that of Macedonian. He was acquitted of all blame in the surrender of his ship to Decatur. Parliament was full of his praise, and the cities of Worcester and Gloucester, and the borough of Tewksbury, honored him with their "freedom." He was made a rear admiral in 1840, and died at Bonnycastle, Antrim, Ireland, in May, 1858, at the age of eighty-seven years.

6 Decatur’s official dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy was dated "At Sea, October 30, 1812." Lieutenant Hamilton, a son of the Secretary of the Navy, was sent with it to his father, at Washington, immediately after the arrival of the United States at New London. He bore the flag of the Macedonian to the seat of government, where he arrived on the evening of the 8th of December, at which time a ball was in progress which had been given in honor of the naval officers. The Secretary of the Navy (Paul Hamilton) and his wife and daughter were present. The first intimation of the arrival of their son and brother was his entrance into the hall of the brilliant assembly, bearing the trophy. Captains Hull and Stewart received it, and bore it to the accomplished wife of President Madison, who was present. The pleasure of the occasion was changed to patriotic joy, and at the supper one of the managers offered as a toast, "Commodore Decatur, and the officers and crew of the frigate United States."

Decatur’s arrival at New London was hailed with joyful demonstrations. The city authorities presented him the public thanks, and a ball was given in his honor.

7 This banquet was given on the day after the freedom of the city was presented to Captain Hull. He and Decatur were present, but Jones was absent. At five o’clock about five hundred gentleman sat down at the tables. De Witt Clinton, the mayor, presided. The room "had the appearance of a marine palace," said an eye-witness. It was "colonnaded round with the masts of ships, entwined with laurels, and bearing the national flags of all the world. Every table had upon it a ship in miniature, with the American flag displayed. In front, where the President sat, with the officers of the navy and other guests, and which was raised about three feet, there appeared an area of about twenty feet by ten covered with green sward, and in the midst of it was a real lake of water, in which floated a miniature frigate. Back of all this hung a main-sail of a ship thirty-three by sixteen feet." – The War, i., 119. Decatur sat on the right of the President, and Hull on the left. When the third toast – "Our Navy" – was given with three cheers, the great main-sail was furled, and revealed an immense transparent painting, representing the three naval battles in which Hull, Jones, and Decatur were respectively engaged. Other surprises of a similar nature were vouchsafed to the guests, and the whole affair was one long to be remembered by the participants.

8 This banquet was given on Thursday, the 7th of January, 1813, at two o’clock in the afternoon, under the direction of Aldermen Van Der Bilt, Buckmaster, and King. The room had the same decoration as at the time of the banquet given to Hull, Jones, and Decatur, a few days before. The sailors, numbering about four hundred, marched to the hotel in pairs, and were greeted by crowds of men and women in the streets, loud cheers from the multitude, and the waving of handkerchiefs from the windows. The band of the 11th Regiment, among whom was an old trumpeter who had served under Washington, received them with music at the door. At the table they were addressed by Alderman Van Der Bilt, who was responded to by the boatswain of the United States. In the evening they went to the theatre by invitation of the manager, which was communicated to them in person by Decatur. The whole pit was reserved for them. The orchestra opened with Yankee Doodle. The drop curtain, in the form of a transparency, had on it a representation of the fight between the United States and Macedonian. Children danced on the stage. They bore large letters of the alphabet in their hands, which, being joined in the course of the dance, produced in transparency the names of HULL, JONES, and DECATUR. Then Mr. M‘Farland, as an Irish clown, came forward and sang a comic song of seven stanzas, written for this occasion, beginning,

"No more of your blathering nonsense

’Bout Nelsons of old Johnny Bull:
I’ll sing you a song, by my conscience,
’Bout JONES, and DECATUR, and HULL.
Dad Neptune has long, with vexation,
Beheld with what insolent pride
The turbulent, billow-washed nation
Has aimed to control the salt tide.
CHORUS – Sing lather away, jonteel and aisy,
By my soul, at the game hob-or-nob,
In a very few minutes we’ll plase ye,
Because we take work by the job."

9 On one side of the medal is a profile of Decatur’s bust, with the legend STEPHANUS DECATUR NAVARCHUS, PUGNIS PLURIBUS VICTOR. On the reverse is a representation of a naval engagement, one of the vessels representing the Macedonian much injured in spars and rigging. Over them is the legend OCCIDIT SIGNUM HOSTILE SIDERA SURGENT. Exergue - INTER STA. UNI. NAV. AMERI. ET MACEDO. NAV. ANG. DIE XXV OCTOBRIS MDCCCXII.

10 William Bainbridge was born at Princeton, New Jersey, on the 7th of May, 1774, and at the age of fifteen years went to sea as a common sailor. He was promoted to mate in the course of three years, and became a captain at the age of nineteen. When war with the French became probable, he entered the navy with the commission of a lieutenant but the position of a commander, his first cruise being in the Resolution, which was captured. He was promoted to post-captain for good service in the year 1800, and took command of the frigate Washington. His career in the Mediterranean has been already mentioned in preceding chapters of this work. Between the war with Tripoli and that of 1812 Captain Bainbridge was employed alternately in the naval and merchant service. After the successful cruise of the Constitution in 1812, he took command of the navy yard at Charlestown, Massachusetts. After the war he went twice to the Mediterranean in command of squadrons to protect American commerce there. For three years he was president of the Board of Navy Commissioners, and he prepared the signals which were in use in our navy until lately. For several years Commodore Bainbridge suffered severely from bodily ill health, and finally died at his residence in Philadelphia, on the 27th of July, 1833, at the age of fifty-nine years. His funeral was celebrated on the 31st. The Cincinnati Society attended, with a large concourse of citizens, and his body was laid in the earth with military honors by the United States Marines and a fine brigade of infantry, under the command of the late Colonel J. G. Watmough.


His remains rest beneath a plain white marble obelisk in Christ Church-yard in Philadelphia, and near it is a modest monument to mark the resting-place of his wife, Susan Heyleger. The following is the inscription on Bainbridge’s monument: "WILLIAM BAINBRIDGE, United States Navy. Born in Princeton, New Jersey, 7th of May, 1774. Died in Philadelphia 28th of July, 1833. PATRIA VICTISQUE LAUDATUS." See the Medal, page 463.

Bainbridge was about six feet in height, and well built. His complexion was fair, his eyes black and very expressive, and his hair and whiskers very dark. He was considered a model as an officer and a man in the navy.

11 The places specified were Port Praya, in the island of St. Jago, and Fernando de Noronha, an island in the Atlantic 125 miles from the extreme eastern cape of Brazil. It is now used as a place of banishment by the Brazilian government. The Constitution and Hornet appeared in the character of British vessels, and at both places letters were left, directed to Sir James L. Yeo, of the Southampton. They contained commonplace remarks, and also orders, in sympathetic ink, for Captain Porter, should they fall into his hands, he having been informed that letters at those places for him would be directed to Yeo. The stratagem succeeded. The whole transaction was in accordance with the privileges of war, and yet a writer in the London Quarterly Review charged Porter with being guilty of an improper act in opening a letter directed to another person!

12 This is one of the most important places in South America, and until 1763 was the seat of the viceroyalty of Brazil, when it was transferred to Rio de Janeiro. It contains a population of 100,000, of whom one third are white, one third mulattoes, and the remainder negroes.

13 The officers of the Constitution in this action were – Captain, William Bainbridge. Lieutenants, George Parker, Beekman T. Hoffman, John T. Shubrick, Charles W. Morgan. Sailing-masters, John C. Alwin, John Nichols. Chaplain, John Carleton. Lieutenants of Marines, William H. Freeman, John Contee. Surgeon, Amos A. Evans. Surgeon’s Mates, John D. Armstrong, Donaldson Yeates. Purser, Robert C. Ludlow. Midshipmen, Thomas Beatty, Lewis Germain, William L. Gordon, Ambrose L. Fields, Frederick Banry, Joseph Cross, Alexander Belcher, William Taylor, Alexander Eskridge, James W. Delaney, James Greenleaf, William D. M‘Carty, Z. W. Nixon, John A. Wish, Dulaney Forest, George Leverett, Henry Ward, John C. Long, John Packet, Richard Winter. Boatswain, Peter Adams. Gunner, Ezekiel Darling. Acting Midshipman, John C. Cumings.

14 On this very day, and at that very hour, Hull and Decatur were at the public banquet given them in the city of New York. See page 457.

15 Letter from H. D. Corneck to Lieutenant Peter V. Wood, in the Isle of France, dated on board the Constitution, January 1, 1813. After speaking of the death of a friend in the battle, he said, "Four other of his messmates shared the same fate, together with sixty men killed, and one hundred and seventy wounded."

16 The following is a list of the British military and naval officers paroled: Military, one lieutenant general, one major, one captain. Naval, one post captain, one master and commander, five lieutenants, three lieutenants of marine, one surgeon, two assistant surgeons, one purser, fifteen midshipmen, one gunner, one boatswain, one ship carpenter, two captain’s clerks – total, thirty-eight. Captain Lambert died on the day after the landing (January 4). Bainbridge treated all of his prisoners with the greatest tenderness and consideration. Silver plate to a large amount, presented to General Hyslop by the colony of Demarara, and which would have been lawful prize, was returned to that gentleman, who thanked Bainbridge for his kind courtesy, and presented him his sword (which Bainbridge would not receive when it was offered in token of surrender) in farther testimony of his gratitude. And yet, in the face of all this, James, the earliest, as he was the most mendacious of the British historians of the war, and one most quoted by British writers now, says (Naval Occurrences, etc., page 188), "The manner in which the Java’s men were treated by the American officers reflects upon the latter the highest disgrace." In a letter to a friend, written when homeward bound, Bainbridge exhibited his goodness of heart in thus speaking of the death of his antagonist: "Poor Lambert, whose death I sincerely regret, was a distinguished, gallant, and worthy man. He has left a widow and two helpless children! But his country makes provision for such sad events."

17 By the Senate on the 19th of February, and by the House of Representatives on the 20th.

18 The procession was formed in Faneuil Hall by Major Tilden, and was escorted by the Boston Light Infantry and the Winslow Blues, under Colonel Sargent. The Honorable Christopher Gore presided at the table, assisted by Harrison Grey Otis, Israel Thorndike, Arnold Willis, Thomas L. Winthrop, Peter C. Brooks, and William Sullivan as vice-presidents. Intelligence had just come that the British Orders in Council had been repealed, and that peace might be soon expected. Elated by this news, the Honorable Timothy Dexter offered the following toast: "The British Orders in Council revoked, and our national honor gallantly retrieved. Now let us shut the temple of Janus till his double face goes out of fashion." An ode was sung at the banquet, written, on request of the committee of arrangements, by the late L. M. Sargent, Esq.

19 One of the most popular songs of the day was composed in honor of the capture of the Java, and called "Bainbridge’s Tid re I," in which, after every verse, the singer gives a sentence in prose, winding up with the chorus "Tid re I, Tid re I, Tid re id re I do." The following is a specimen of that kind of song, once so popular:

"Come, lads, draw near, and you shall hear,

In truth as chaste as Dian, O!
How Bainbridge true, and his bold crew,
Again have tamed the lion, O!
‘Twas off Brazil he got the pill
Which made him cry peccavi, O
But hours two, the Java new,
Maintained the battle bravely, O!

"But our gallant tars, as soon as they were piped to quarters, gave three cheers, and boldly swore, by the blood of the heroes of Tripoli, that, sooner than strike, they’d go the bottom singing

Tid re I, Tid re I, Tid re id re I do."

20 This box is three inches in diameter and one inch in depth. On the inside of the lid is the following inscription:

"The Corporation of the City of New York to Commodore William Bainbridge, of the United States frigate Constitution, in testimony of the high sense they entertain of his gallantry and skill in the capture of his Britannic Majesty’s ship JAVA on the 29th of December, 1812."

21 The portrait was painted by John Wesley Jarvis. The engraving on page 459 is from a copy of that picture.

22 The box presented by the city of Albany is of oblong form, and is faithfully delineated in the engraving. It is three inches and a half long and three fourths of an inch deep. On the inside of the lid is the following inscription: "A tribute of respect by the Common Council of the City of Albany to Commodore William Bainbridge for his gallant naval services in the late war with Great Britain." This box is in the possession of the gallant commander’s daughter, Mrs. (Mary Bainbridge) Charles Joudon, of Philadelphia.


23 This urn is eighteen inches in height. The lid is surmounted by an eagle about to soar. Below each massive handle is a head of Neptune. On one side of the urn is the representation of the wrecked Java and the triumphant Constitution, and on the other the following inscription: "Presented by the citizens of Philadelphia to Commodore William Bainbridge, of the U. S. frigate Constitution, as a testimonial of the high sense they entertain of his skill and gallantry in the capture of the British frigate Java, of 49 guns and 500 men, and of their admiration of his generous and magnanimous conduct toward the vanquished foe. Loss in the action of 29th December, 1812 - C., 9 killed, 25 wounded; J., 60 killed, 101 wounded."

After the death of Bainbridge’s widow, his plate was distributed among his surviving children. The urn and other silver pieces, and the New York gold box, belong to Mrs. Susan (Bainbridge) Hayes, widow of Captain Thomas Hayes, of the United States Navy, a resident of Philadelphia. To her kind courtesy I am indebted for the privilege of making sketches of the urn and boxes. She also has in her possession the sword presented to Bainbridge by Hyslop (see Note 2, page 461). It is a straight dress sword, in a black leather scabbard. Also another sword, with basket guard and elegant gilt mountings. Also a Turkish cimeter.

24 On one side of the medal is a bust of Bainbridge, and the legend "GULIELMUS BAINBRIDGE PATRIA VICTORISQUE LAUDATUS." Reverse, a ship, the stumps of her three masts standing, and her conqueror with only a few shot-holes in her sails. Legend – "PUGNANDO." Exergue – "INTER CONST. NAV. AMERI. ET JAV. NAV. ANGL. DIE XXIX. DECEM. MDCCCXII."

25 William James was an English emigrant to the United States early in the present century. He was a veterinary surgeon (or "horse doctor," as they are called in this country) in Philadelphia, but was unsuccessful in his profession. He left that city for his native country, thoroughly disgusted with every thing American, because the people had not appreciated his talents. His chief employment after his return seems to have been abuse of the Americans, their public men, their government, and their writers. He wrote angry reviews of some American books on the naval and military history of the War of 1812, and these were published, in 1817 and 1818, in three volumes. The first was entitled "A Full and Correct Account of the NAVAL OCCURRENCES of the Late War, etc.," and the other two, "A Full and Correct Account of the MILITARY OCCURRENCES of the Late War, etc." They are not histories, but violent tirades, and manifest, as the Edinburg Review remarked, "bitter and persevering antipathy" to the Americans. "Almost every original remark made by the author upon them," said the Review, "bears traces of the unworthy feeling we have just mentioned." In considering his performance in the light of two generations of thought and investigation, the truth of the motto on the title-page of his volume on the Naval Occurrences, quoted from Murphy’s Tacitus, is very manifest. "Truth is always brought to light by time and reflection, while the lie of the day lives by bustle, noise, and precipitation." James died in 1827.

26 See page 225.

27 See page 245.

28 See page 226.

29 In Massachusetts, so strongly Democratic, only a few months before, the "peace electors," as the Clintonians were called, obtained a majority of 24,000.

30 Owing to the dissonance in the Democratic party in New York, caused by the dissensions between the Madisonians and Clintonians, the Federalists chose nineteen out of the twenty-three members of Congress. Those of New Hampshire were all Federalists, and that party carried the Legislature of New Jersey and more than half of its Congressional delegation.

31 A question upon similar premises arose in the Convention of 1787, when it was proposed to make three out of every five slaves count as persons in determining the representation of the states in Congress. It was observed that while the slaves were called persons for a political purpose, they were only chattels at other times, and could not be called into the military service of the country. This was a grievous wrong toward the non-slaveholding states.

32 History of the United States, second series, iii., 381.

33 The revolutionary and military operations in that quarter will be noticed hereafter.

34 Quincy had said, in the speech just quoted from, that the "administration, under French influence and dictation, had for twelve years ruled the country with authority little short of despotic;" and then referred to the continuous rule of "a narrow Virginia clique, to the exclusion from office and influence of all men of talents, even of their own party, not connected with that clique."

35 Author of War in Disguise. See page 140.

36 According to a careful estimate made by the Secretary of the Navy, the force of three frigates would not be more than equal to one 74-gun ship. The expense of building and equipping a frigate of 44 guns, estimated from the actual cost of the President, was $220,910; the cost of a 74, $333,000. The annual expense of keeping a frigate of that size in service was estimated at $110,000, and that of a 74 at $210,110. The result from these calculations was, that while the expenses of a 74 were something less than those of two frigates of 44 guns each, her value in service was equal to three frigates. – See Perkins’s History of the Political and Military Events of the Late War, page 150. This estimate determined Congress to build 74’s.

37 The following were the Treasury estimates of expenditures for the year 1813:

For the civil list, and interest and reimbursement of a part of the principal of the public debt


For the army, not including the new levies


For the navy, not including the proposed increase




The total appropriations made for the service of the year amounted to $39,975,000. Such was the amount necessary to meet the entire expenses of the government of the United States fifty years ago, when it was waging a war with Great Britain. The expenditures of the government for a year (1863) during the late civil war was $865,234,000.

38 This was under a false impression made by Mr. Russell, the American Charge d’Affaires, that in consequence of the repeal of the Orders in Council the Non-intercourse Act would be suspended. Immediately after the repeal (June 23d, 1812), all the American ships then in British ports commenced loading with British goods.

39 See page 408.

40 The British authorities excused themselves on the plea that they could not restrain the Indians. This was no justification. The root of the iniquity was in the employment of the savages as allies.

41 For a refutation of this erroneous assertion, see Chapter VII.

42 This right of citizenship, acquired by naturalization and the transfer of allegiance, has long ago been tacitly acknowledged by the British authorities. Indeed, the claim set up by the Prince Regent was practically abandoned during the War of 1812, for, excepting in the case of the Irishmen made prisoners with Colonel Scott, the British never claimed British born prisoners as subjects. See page 408.

43 In the manifesto the Prince Regent also solemnly declared that "the charge of exciting the Indians to offensive measures against the United States is equally void of foundation." This denial was iterated and reiterated by British statesmen and publicists, and has been ever since. It is very natural for a civilized and Christian people to repel the charge of complicity with savage pagans in the practices of merciless and barbarous warfare. It is commendable, and evinces a proper sense of the heinousness of the offense against civilization; but the official declarations of even a prince, were he many times more virtuous than that libertine regent of England, can not set aside the indelible records of history or the verdict of mankind. There are too many positive statements concerning such complicity to doubt It. In addition to those given in the preceding pages of this work, many more may be found in Niles’s Weekly Register, ii., 342.

44 Mr. Barlow, as we have seen, was an ardent Republican (see page 94). In October, 1812, the Duke de Bassano, at Napoleon’s request, invited Barlow to meet the emperor at Wilna, in Poland, the nominal object of which was to complete a commercial treaty with the United States, for which the American minister had long importuned. It was believed by some that the real object was to make an arrangement by which French ships, manned by American sailors, might be brought into play against Great Britain. Whatever was the object remains a mystery. Barlow obeyed the royal summons immediately, and traveled day and night. The weather was very inclement. The country had been wasted by war, and he suffered many privations. In consequence of these and exposure to the weather, he was attacked with inflammation of the lungs, which caused his death in the cottage of a Jew at Zarnowice, near Cracow, on the 22d of December, 1812. Of course, the object of his mission was not accomplished. His last poem, dictated, it is said, from his death-bed, was a withering expression of resentment against Napoleon for the hopes which he had disappointed.

45 Services were held in King’s Chapel, on the 26th of March, 1813, in commemoration of the victories of the Russians over Napoleon, who aimed, it was said, "at the empire of the world." One hundred and fifty amateurs and professional gentlemen assisted in the performance of sacred music. Among other pieces sung was the following recitative, composed for the occasion: "For the hosts of Gallia went in with their chariots and with their horsemen into the North, and the Lord chased them with fierce warriors, winter blasts, and famine; but the children of Sclavia, safe and unhurt, through all the danger passed." The closing prayer was made by the Reverend Mr. Chauncey.

The services in the church were held in the forenoon. In the afternoon many hundreds of the citizens of Boston and the neighboring country sat down to a public dinner. M. Eustaphieve, the Russian consul for New England, was a guest. The room was appropriately decorated. Among the ornaments was a portrait of the Russian emperor, with the words, "Alexander, the deliverer of Europe." Harrison Gray Otis made a speech on the occasion, in which he declared his conviction that the check given to Napoleon by Russia had rescued our country from its greatest danger – the influence of the French policy, Several songs were sung. One of them contained the following verse:

"Hail, Russia! may thy conq’ring bands

Sad Europe from her chains release;
Exalt the hopes of farthest lands,
And give us back an exiled PEACE!"

An ode was sung, to the air of "Ye Mariners of England," which concluded thus:

"Then fill to Alexander!

For him a garland twine,
While shaded by our oaks, we taste
The virtues of the vine.
And when those oaks adorn our hills,
Or bear our thunders far,
Let each soul
Fill his bowl
To vict’ry and the Czar –
And give a long and loud huzza
To vict’ry and the Czar."

46 On the 5th of June, 1813, the late G. W. P. Custis, the adopted son of Washington, addressed a large audience at Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, on the Russian victories. That address drew from the Russian minister at Washington a very complimentary letter, and a request for a copy to be transmitted to Russia. That letter, dated "June 21, 1813," was accompanied by a small medal containing a likeness of the Emperor Alexander. "Permit me to express to you my gratitude," said M. Daschkoff, "that of my family, and of all my countrymen who shall peruse your oration, for the zeal and interest you have displayed in our cause; and allow me to send you a small medal, with the likeness of Alexander the First, the only one which is now in my possession." – MS. Letter.



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