Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XXXI - War on the Ocean in 1813.






The Hornet on the Coast of South America. – Her Contest with the Peacock. – The Destruction of the Peacock. – Conduct of Captain Lawrence. – Prowess of the Americans respected. – Honors to Captain Lawrence and his Men. – Public Dinner in New York. – The Lawrence Medal. – Cruise of the Chesapeake. – Her Character. – Lawrence in Command of Her. – A Challenge. – Captain Lawrence’s last Official Letter. – Captain Broke’s Challenge. – The Shannon. – Condition of the Chesapeake. – A mutinous Feeling discovered. – Lawrence accepts Broke’s Challenge. – The Chesapeake goes out to fight. – Great Excitement in Boston. – Beginning of the Battle. – Battle of the Chesapeake and Shannon. – Captain Lawrence mortally wounded. – "Don’t give up the Ship." – A desperate Struggle. – Treachery of a Portuguese. – Capture of the Chesapeake. – The Chesapeake taken to Halifax. – Biographical Sketch of Captain Lawrence. – Joy of the British. – Admiral Warren’s Thanks to Captain Broke. – Effect of the Victory in England. – Honors to Captain Broke. – Silver Plate presented to him by his Neighbors. – Respect for the Remains of Lawrence and Ludlow. – Funeral Ceremonies. – The Bodies of the Slain taken to Salem. – Funeral Ceremonies at Salem. – Removal of the Bodies to New York. – Testimonials of Regard. – Funeral Ceremonies in New York. – Monuments to the Memory of Lawrence and Ludlow. – The Inscriptions on them. – Stirring Scene in Chesapeake Bay. – Capture of the Asp. – The Argus bears Minister Crawford to France. – The Argus in British waters. – Her Destruction of Property there. – Her Combat with the Pelican. – Surrender of the Argus. – Her Loss in Men. – Monument to the Memory of Lieutenant Allen. – Commander Allen. – Cruise of the Enterprise. – Her Combat with the Boxer. – Death of the two Commanders. – Gallantry of Lieutenant M‘Call. – Funeral of Burrows and Blyth. – Their Monuments. – Medals awarded to Burrows and M‘Call. – The Grave of Burrows. – Loss of Life on the two Vessels. – Last Cruise of the Enterprise.


"O, Johnny Bull, my joe, John, your Peacocks keep at home,
And ne’er let British seamen on a Frolic hither come,
For we’ve Hornets and we’ve Wasps, John, who, as you doubtless know,
Carry stingers in their tails, O, Johnny Bull, my joe."


"Then learn, ye comrades of the illustrious dead,
Heroic faith and honor to revere;
For Lawrence slumbers in his lowly bed,
Embalm’d by Albion’s and Columbia’s tear."


After the destruction of the Java off the coast of Brazil in December, 1812, Commodore Bainbridge, as we have observed, sailed for the United States [January 6, 1813.], leaving the Hornet, Captain James Lawrence, to blockade the Bon Citoyenne, a vessel laden with treasure, in the harbor of San Salvador. 1 On the 24th of January, the British ship of war Montagu, 74, made her appearance. She came up from Rio Janeiro to raise the blockade. The Hornet was driven into the harbor, but escaped during the very dark night that followed, and went cruising up the coast. She was thus employed for a month, and captured a few prizes. Finally, on the 24th of February, at half past three o’clock in the afternoon, while chasing an English brig off the mouth of the Demerara River, Lawrence suddenly discovered a vessel, evidently a man-of-war, with an English ensign set, just without the bar. 2 He determined to attack her. The Carobana bank lay between the Hornet and this newly-discovered enemy. While she was beating around this another sail was discovered, bearing down cautiously on her weather quarter. When she drew near she proved to be a man-of-war brig, displaying British colors. The men of the Hornet were called to quarters. The ship was cleared for action, and as the American ensign was flung out she tacked, contended for the weather-gage unsuccessfully, and then stood for her antagonist. The latter was on a like errand, and both vessels, with their heads different ways, and lying close to the wind, passed within half pistol-shot of each other at twenty-five minutes past five, delivering their broadsides from larboard batteries as the guns bore. Immediately after passing, the stranger endeavored to wear short round, so as to get a raking fire at the Hornet. Lawrence closely watched the movement, and promptly imitating it, and firing his starboard guns, compelled the stranger to right his helm. With a perfect blaze of fire the Hornet came down upon her, closed, and in this advantageous position poured in her shot with so much vigor for fifteen minutes that her antagonist not only struck her colors, but raised the union down in the fore rigging as a signal of distress. Very soon afterward the mainmast of the vanquished fell, and went over her side. Lieutenant J. T. Shubrick was sent to take possession of her, and ascertain her name and condition. She was the British man-of-war brig Peacock, 18, Captain William Peake. Her commander was slain, a great portion of her crew had fallen, and she was in a sinking condition. She already had six feet of water in her hold. Lieutenant David Connor and Midshipman Benjamin Cooper were immediately dispatched with boats to bring off the wounded, and endeavor to save the vessel. For this purpose both vessels were anchored. The guns of the Peacock were thrown overboard, the holes made by shot were plugged, and every exertion was made to keep the battered hulk afloat until the wounded could be removed. Their efforts were not wholly successful. The short twilight closed before the work of mercy was accomplished. The vessel filled rapidly; and while thirteen of her crew and several men belonging to the Hornet were yet on board of her, she suddenly went down. Nine of the thirteen, and three of the Hornet’s men, 3 perished. Connor and several other Americans, and four of the Peacock’s crew, had a narrow escape from death. The latter saved themselves by running up the rigging to the foretop, which remained above water when she settled on the bottom, for she sunk in only about five fathoms. Four prisoners, in the confusion of the moment, had lowered the Peacock’s stern boat and escaped to the shore. Those who were saved received every attention from the victors. The crew of the Hornet cheerfully divided their clothing with those of the Peacock; and so sensible were the officers of the latter of the generosity of the American commander and his men, that, on their arrival in New York, they expressed their gratitude in a public letter of thanks to Captain Lawrence. 4

The loss of the British in this engagement, besides ship and property, is not exactly known. Captain Peake and four men were known to be killed, and four officers and twenty-nine men were found wounded. Nine others were drowned. The entire loss of life on the part of the enemy was probably not less than fifty. The Hornet was scarcely touched in her hull, but her sails and rigging were considerably cut, and her mainmast and bowsprit were wounded. Of her crew only one man was killed 5 and two wounded in the fight, and three, as we have observed, went down with the Peacock. 6 Two others were injured by the explosion of a cartridge. The strength of the Hornet in men and metal was slightly greater than that of the Peacock. She carried eighteen 32-pound carronades and two long 12’s. The Peacock was armed with sixteen 24-pound carronades, two long 9’s, one 12-pound carronade in the forecastle, one 6-pounder, and two swivels. Her men numbered one hundred and thirty, and those of the Hornet one hundred and thirty-five.

Captain Lawrence found himself with two hundred and seventy-seven souls on board, and short of water. He determined to return immediately to the United States; and he did not cast anchor until he reached Holmes’s Hole, Martha’s Vineyard, on the 19th of March. On that day he wrote an official letter to the Secretary of the Navy giving an account of his success, and on the 25th he arrived at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Intelligence of the exploits of the Hornet went over the land, and produced the liveliest joy, as well as the most profound sensation in both countries. The prowess and skill of American seamen were fully vindicated and acknowledged, and the "Mistress of the Seas" found it necessary to move with the humiliating caution of a doubter conscious of danger. "If a vessel had been moored for the sole purpose of experiment," said a Halifax (British) newspaper, "it is not probable she could have been sunk in so short a time. It will not do for our vessels to fight theirs single-handed. The Americans are a dead nip." The President of the United States, in his message to Congress at the special session in May, said, "In continuance of the brilliant achievements of our infant navy, a signal triumph has been gained by Captain Lawrence and his companions, in the Hornet sloop-of-war, with a celerity so unexampled, and with a slaughter of the enemy so disproportionate to the loss in the Hornet, as to claim for the conqueror the highest praise." 7

The Common Council of New York resolved to present the "freedom of the city," with "a piece of plate with appropriate devices and inscriptions," to Captain Lawrence, and to give a public dinner to the officers and crew of the Hornet. 8


Afterward, when Lawrence was slain, the Congress of the United States requested the President to present to his nearest male relative a gold medal commemorative of his services, 9 and a silver medal to each of the commissioned officers who served under him in the Hornet. Every where throughout the land the name of Lawrence was honored; and, as usual after a victory, Art and Song made contributions to the garland of praise with which the people delighted to crown the chief victor. 10

While the Hornet was making her way homeward, the Chesapeake, 38, Captain Evans, which had been lying in Boston Harbor for some time, was out on an extensive cruise. She left Boston toward the close of February, passed the Canary and Cape Verd Islands, crossed the equator, and for six weeks cruised in that region. She then went to the coast of South America, passed the spot where the Peacock went down, sailed through the West Indies, and up the coast of the United States to the point of departure. During all that long cruise she met only three ships of war, and accomplished nothing except the capture of four merchant vessels. As she entered Boston harbor in a gale she lost a top-mast, and several men who were aloft went overboard with it and were drowned. The Chesapeake had the reputation of being an "unlucky" ship before the war, and this unsuccessful cruise and melancholy termination confirmed the impression. A superstitious notion prevailed in the navy concerning "lucky" and "unlucky" vessels, and officers and seamen were averse to serving in the Chesapeake on account of her "unlucky" character. 11

Captain Evans was compelled to leave the service at the close of this cruise on account of the loss of the sight of one of his eyes, and danger that menaced the other. Lawrence, who had just been promoted from master commandant to captain, was assigned to the command of the Chesapeake. He accepted it with reluctance, because the seamen would not sail in her with the spirit that promised success.

British vessels were now blockading the harbors of Massachusetts. Hitherto that blockade had been very mild on the New England coast, for the British Cabinet believed that the people of that section, being largely opposed to the war, would, if properly cajoled, prove recreant to patriotism, and either join the enemy outright, or separate from and thus materially weaken the remainder of the States. This delusion now began to yield to the stern arguments of events, and the blockade was made more rigorous every hour. Blockading ships hovered like hawks along the New England coast, and the Shannon, 38, and Tenedos, 38, were closely watching Boston Harbor at the close of May.

The Hornet was now commanded by Captain Biddle, and had been placed under the orders of Captain Lawrence. They were to cruise together if possible, going eastward and northward from Boston for the twofold purpose of intercepting the British vessels bound to the St. Lawrence, and ultimately to seek the Greenland whale-fisheries. Every thing was in readiness at the close of May, when the Shannon, the complement in strength of the Chesapeake, appeared alone off Boston, in the attitude of a challenger. She was observed by Lawrence, and on Tuesday, the 1st day of June, that commander wrote as follows to the Secretary of the Navy:

"Since I had the honor of addressing you last I have been detained for want of men. I am now getting under weigh, and shall endeavor to carry into execution the instructions you have honored me with. An English frigate is now in sight from my deck. I have sent a pilot boat out to reconnoitre, and should she be alone I am in hopes to give a good account of her before night. My crew appear to be in fine spirits, and, I trust, will do their duty." 12 (See fac-simile on page 702.)


At a later hour Captain Philip Vere Broke, the commander of the Shannon, wrote a challenge to Captain Lawrence, saying: "As the Chesapeake appears now ready for sea, I request you will do me the favor to meet the Shannon with her, ship to ship, to try the fortunes of our respective flags. To an officer of your character it requires some apology for proceeding to farther particulars. Be assured, sir, it is not from any doubt I can entertain of your wishing to close with my proposal, but merely to provide an answer to any objection which might be made, and very reasonably, upon the chance of our receiving any unfair support."


Captain Broke then, in a long appendix to his challenge, explained his object, mentioned his own strength, the disposition of other British vessels in the neighborhood, designated the place of combat, 13 asked for a plan of mutual signals, offered arrangements concerning the presence of other vessels, and assured him that the Chesapeake could not get to sea without "the risk of being crushed by the superior force of the British squadron" then abroad. 14

The Shannon ranked as a 38-gun ship, but mounted fifty-two guns. 15 According to Broke’s challenge, she "mounted twenty-four guns on her broadside, and one light boat-gun; 18-pounders on her main-deck, and 32-pound carronades on her quarter-deck and forecastle; and was manned with a complement of three hundred men and boys, besides thirty seamen" who had been taken out of captured vessels. 16 She was perfectly equipped, and her men were thoroughly disciplined; and officers and men had unwavering confidence in each other. Quite different was the case of the Chesapeake. The seamen, as we have observed, naturally superstitious, regarded her as "unlucky," and this opinion was disheartening. Captain Lawrence had been in command of her only about ten days, and was unacquainted with the abilities of her officers and men. Some of the former were absent on account of ill health. First Lieutenant Octavius A. Page, of Virginia, a very superior officer, was sick with a lung fever, of which he died in Boston soon afterward. Second Lieutenant Thompson was absent on account of ill health, and Acting Lieutenants Nicholson and Pearce were also absent from the same cause. The consequence was that Lieutenant Augustus Ludlow, who was the third officer under Evans in the last cruise of the Chesapeake, became Lawrence’s second in command. He was very young, and had never acted in that capacity, yet he was an officer of merit, and already distinguished. There was but one other commissioned sea officer in the ship.

Captain Lawrence was beset with other difficulties. The crew were almost mutinous because of disputes concerning the prize-money won during the last cruise. There were also a large number of mercenaries on board, among them a troublesome Portuguese, who was a boatswain’s mate. Many of the crew had but recently enlisted; and in every way the Chesapeake was wholly unprepared for a conflict with an equal in men and metal. But in armament she was almost equal to the Shannon. She mounted twenty-eight long 18-pounders on the main-deck, sixteen 32-lb. carronades on the quarter-deck, and four carronades of equal weight and a long 18-pounder on the forecastle. 17

After Captain Broke had dispatched his challenge to Salem he prepared his ship for combat, displayed his colors in full, and lay off Boston light-house under easy sail. Captain Lawrence understood this as a challenge, and when the pilot-boat, sent out to reconnoitre, returned with the assurance that the Shannon was alone, he determined to accept it. He well knew his disabilities, and told his officers that he would rather fight the Shannon and Tenedos in succession, after a twenty days’ cruise, than to fight either alone on first putting to sea, when the thoughts of homes just left, seasickness, and other depressing circumstances would seriously affect his men. Yet, innately brave, and always self-reliant, he acted upon his own impulses, and, without consulting any one on shore, he weighed anchor toward noon. 18

Captain Lawrence attempted to conciliate his crew by giving them checks for their prize-money, and addressed them eloquently for a few minutes. He then ran up three ensigns, one on the mizzen-royal-mast-head, another on the peak, and a third in the starboard main-rigging, and attempted to stimulate the quickened enthusiasm of his men by unfurling at the fore a broad white flag bearing the words first used on the Essex, 19 FREE TRADE AND SAILORS’ RIGHTS. Yet they still murmured, for the Portuguese was rebellious, and active in fomenting discontent.

It was now noon – a pleasant day in early summer [June 1, 1813.], after a chilling mist had brooded for a week over Boston Harbor. The anchor of the Chesapeake was lifted, and she rode gallantly out into the bay in the direction of her menacing foe, followed by the eager eyes of thousands. 20 As her antagonist was in sight, her decks were immediately cleared for action, and both vessels, under easy sail, bore away to a position about thirty miles from Boston Light, between Cape Cod and Cape Ann. 21

At four o’clock the Chesapeake fired a gun, which made the Shannon heave to. She was soon under single-reefed top-sails and jib, while the Chesapeake, under whole top-sails and jib, was bearing down upon her with considerable speed. The breeze was freshening, and as the latter approached her movements were watched on board the Shannon with great anxiety, because it was uncertain on which side she was about to close upon her antagonist, or whether she might not commence the action on her quarter. Having the weather-gage the Chesapeake had the advantage; and "the history of naval warfare," says Mr. Cooper, "does not contain an instance of a ship’s being more gallantly conducted than the Chesapeake was now handled." 22

Onward came the Chesapeake until she lay fairly along the larboard side of the Shannon, yard-arm and yard-arm, within pistol-shot distance, It was now between half past five and six o’clock in the evening. The Chesapeake was luffed, and ranged up abeam, and as her foremast came in a line with the Shannon’s mizzen mast the latter discharged her cabin guns, and the others in quick succession from aft forward. The Chesapeake was silent for a moment until her guns bore, when she poured a destructive broadside into her antagonist. Now came the tug with heavy metal. For six or eight minutes the cannonade on both sides was incessant. In general effect the Chesapeake had the best of the action at this juncture, but she had suffered dreadfully in the loss of officers and men, Compared with that of the foe, it was as ten to one. 23

While passing the Shannon’s broadside, after a contest of twelve minutes, the Chesapeake’s foretop-sail-tie and jib-sheet were shot away. Her spanker-brails were also loosened, and the sail blew out. Thus crippled at the moment when she was about to take the wind out of the Shannon’s sails, shoot ahead, lay across her bow, rake her, and probably secure a victory, the Chesapeake would not obey her helm; and when the sails of her antagonist filled, she by some means got her mizzen rigging foul of the Shannon’s fore-chains. Thus entangled, the Chesapeake lay exposed to the raking fire of the foe’s carronades. These almost swept her upper decks. Captain Lawrence was slightly wounded in the leg; Mr. White, the sailing-master, was killed; Ludlow, the first lieutenant, was badly wounded in two places by grape-shot; and Mr. Brown, the marine officer, Mr. Ballard, the acting fourth lieutenant, and Peter Adams, the boatswain, were all mortally wounded. The latter was boatswain of the Constitution in her action with the Guerriere.


When Captain Lawrence perceived the entanglement of the ships he ordered his boarders to be called up. Unfortunately, a negro bugler was employed to give the signal instead of the drummer, as usual. Dismayed by the aspect of the fight, the bugler skulked under the stern of the launch, and when called to duty he was so terrified that he could not give even a feeble blast. 25 Oral orders were immediately sent to the boarders, but these were imperfectly understood amid the din of battle. At that moment, while Captain Lawrence was giving directions concerning the damaged foresails, that the ship might be rendered manageable, he was fatally wounded by a musket-ball, and carried below by Lieutenant Cox, aided by some of the men. 26 His last words when he left the deck were in substance, "Tell the men to fire faster and not give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks!" These words of the dying hero were remembered, and "Don’t give up the Ship" was the battle-cry of the American Navy during the whole war. It was the motto upon the banner borne by Perry’s flag-ship in battle three months later, and is still a proverbial word of encouragement to the struggling and faltering in life’s various battles. 27


The keen and experienced eye of Captain Broke quickly comprehended the weakness of the Chesapeake at this moment, she having no officer on the quarter-deck above the rank of midshipman. He immediately ordered his boarders forward. Placing himself, with his first lieutenant, at the head of twenty of them, and passing cautiously from his fore-channels, he reached the quarter-deck of the Chesapeake without opposition, for the gunners, finding all their officers fallen, and themselves exposed to a raking fire without the means of returning a shot, had left the guns and fled below. Meanwhile Lieutenant Budd had ordered the boarders to follow him up. Only fifteen or twenty obeyed, and with these he gallantly attacked the British at the gangways. He was almost instantly disabled by a severe wound, and thrown down on the gun-deck. His followers were driven toward the forecastle. These disasters aroused the severely-wounded young Ludlow. Having laid his commander in the guard-room, he hurried upon deck, where he almost instantly received a fatal sabre-wound, and was carried below.

Broke now ordered about sixty marines of the Shannon to join him. These kept down the Americans who were ascending the main hatchway. Provoked by a shot from below by a boy, they fired down the hatches, and killed and wounded a great many men. The victory was soon made easy by treachery. The boatswain’s mate (the mutinous Portuguese already mentioned) removed the gratings of the berth-deck, and then, running below, followed by a large number of the malcontents of the morning, he shouted, maliciously, "So much for not paying men prize-money!" This act gave the British complete control of the vessel; and while a few gallant marines, animated by the injunctions of the bleeding Lawrence, were yet defending the ship, First Lieutenant Watts, of the Shannon, hauled down the colors of the Chesapeake and hoisted the British flag. At that instant he was slain by a grape-shot from one of the foremast guns of his own ship, which struck him on the head. 28

History has recorded but few naval battles more sanguinary than this. It lasted only fifteen minutes, and yet, as Cooper remarks, "both ships were charnel-houses." They presented a most dismal spectacle. The Chesapeake had lost forty-eight men killed, and ninety-eight wounded. The Shannon had lost twenty-six killed, and fifty-eight wounded. Among the killed were Lieutenant Watt, already mentioned, Mr. Aldham, the purser, and Mr. Dunn, the captain’s clerk. 29

Both ships presented a most dismal appearance. Marks of carnage and desolation every where met the eye. 30 Captain Broke, who had ordered the slaughter to cease when the victory was gained, had become delirious. Lawrence, too severely wounded to be carried to his shattered cabin, was left in the ward-room with his own surgeon, seldom uttering a word except to indicate his wants. White lay dead, 31 Ballard, 32 Broome, 33 and Adams were dying, and the gallant Ludlow was suffering severely from a mortal wound.


As soon as the two ships were disentangled, the Shannon started for Halifax with her prize, where she arrived on the 7th [June, 1813.]. Lawrence had expired the day before, and his body, wrapped in the flag of the Chesapeake, lay upon the quarter-deck. 35

As the ships entered the harbor, the men-of-war there manned their yards in honor of the conqueror. The eager inhabitants crowded to the water-side, and covered the wharves and houses. Shout after shout went up from the multitude, and joy filled every heart on shore, except of those who mourned friends among the slain. 36

The capture of a single ship of war probably never produced a greater effect upon the contending parties than this victory of the Shannon over the Chesapeake. The recent almost uninterrupted success of the little navy of the United States had made the Americans believe that it was invincible, and a similar idea was taking hold of the British mind. The spell was now broken. The Americans were desponding, the British jubilant.


In his letter of thanks to Captain Broke and the men of the Shannon, Sir John Borlase Warren, the commander-in-chief of the British Navy on the American station, observed that they had "restored the renown which had ever accompanied the British Navy from the foul and false aspersions endeavored to be thrown upon it by an insidious enemy, and had by their exertions added one of the brightest laurels to the wreath which had hitherto encircled the British arms."

The joy in England was intense. It was evinced by public speeches in and out of Parliament, 37 bonfires, and illuminations. The Tower guns were fired as in the event of a victory like those of the Nile and Trafalgar. The freedom of the city of London and a sword of the value of one hundred guineas ($500) were voted to Captain Broke 38 by the Corporation of that city. He was knighted by the Prince Regent; compliments were showered upon him from every quarter; and the inhabitants of Suffolk, his native county, presented him with a gorgeous piece of silver plate as a testimonial of their sense of his eminent services. 39


The most gratifying respect was paid to the remains of Captain Lawrence on their arrival at Halifax, and also to those of Lieutenant Ludlow, who died there on the 13th of the month. 40 The garrison furnished a funeral party from the Sixty-fourth Regiment three hundred strong. The navy also furnished a funeral party, with pallbearers, and at the appointed hour the body was taken in a boat from the Chesapeake to the King’s Wharf; where it was received by the military under Sir John Wardlow. Six companies of the Sixty-fourth Regiment preceded the corpse. The officers of the Chesapeake (headed by Lieutenant Budd, 41 who became the commander after the fall of his superiors) followed it as mourners. The officers of the British Navy were also in attendance. These were followed by Sir Thomas Saumerez, the staff, and officers of the garrison. The procession was closed by a number of the inhabitants of the town. The funeral services were performed by the rector of St. Paul’s Church, and three volleys were discharged by the troops over the grave.

The feeling of depression in the American mind passed away as soon as reflection asserted its dignity. All the circumstances were so unfavorable to the Chesapeake that it was reasonable to suppose that such a misfortune would not occur again. The deep mortification that assumed the features of censure was momentary, and the gallant Lawrence and his companions were honored with every demonstration of respect. The most remarkable of these was exhibited in the patriotic and successful efforts of Captain George Crowninshield, Jr., of Salem, Massachusetts, to restore the bodies of Lawrence and Ludlow to their native land. He, with others, had seen the contest in the distance from the heights around Salem, and the feelings then excited were deepened by the intelligence of the fate of the gallant Lawrence and Ludlow, and some of their companions. He opened a correspondence with the United States government, asking permission to proceed to Halifax in the brig Henry, of which he was master, with a flag of truce, to solicit from the authorities there the remains of the honored dead. Permission was granted. The President of the United States gave him a passport for the purpose [July 28, 1813], and on the 7th of August he and some associates sailed in the Henry from Salem for Halifax. 42 He arrived there on the 10th. His errand was successful, and on the 13th of the same month he sailed from Halifax for Salem with the remains of Lawrence and Ludlow. The Henry reached Salem on the 18th of August, and on the following day Captain Crowninshield wrote to the Secretary of the Navy informing him of the fact, and saying, "The relatives of Captain Lawrence have requested that his remains might ultimately rest in New York, but that funeral honors might be paid here, and, accordingly, the ceremonies will take place on Monday next at Salem. Commodore Bainbridge has been consulted on the occasion."

The funeral obsequies were performed at Salem on Monday, the 23d of August. The morning was beautiful. The brig Henry lay at anchor in the harbor bearing her precious freight, and near her the brig Rattlesnake. Almost every vessel in the waters, and flag-staff in the town, exhibited the American ensign at half-mast, and numerous flags were displayed in the streets through which the funeral procession was to pass. Thousands poured into the town from the surrounding country at an early hour. The streets were thronged. The Boston South End Artillery were there with the "Adams" and "Hancock," brass cannon of the Revolution, and men of distinction in every pursuit of life participated in the funeral obsequies.

At a little past meridian the bodies were taken from the Henry and placed in barges, accompanied by a long procession of boats manned by seamen in blue jackets and white trowsers, their hats bearing the words on Lawrence’s white flag, FREE TRADE AND SAILORS’ RIGHTS. At India Wharf hearses were ready to receive them, and at the same time the Henry and Rattlesnake were firing minute-guns alternately. 43 The bells commenced tolling at one o’clock, 44 and an immense procession moved to slow and solemn music, escorted by a company of light infantry under Captain J. C. King. They passed through the principal streets to the Rev. Mr. Spalding’s meeting-house. 45


The corpses were received by the clergy at the door, and placed in the centre of the large aisle by the sailors who bore them to the shore. These stood leaning upon the coffins during the services. The coffins were covered with black velvet, with the monograms of the heroes inclosed in wreaths, swords crossed, and a marginal border all embroidered in silver. The interior of the church was hung in black, and decorated with cypress and evergreens; and in front of the sacred desk the names of LAWRENCE and LUDLOW appeared in letters of gold. An eloquent and touching funeral oration was delivered by the Honorable Joseph Story, and the rites of sepulture were performed by the Masonic societies and the military, when the bodies were placed in a vault. 46

Preparations were soon made for removing the remains of Lawrence and Ludlow to New York. Because of some delay in procuring an extension of the passport of the Henry (so as to allow her to go to New York) from Acting Commander Oliver, of the British blockading squadron off New London, they were conveyed to the navy yard at Charleston on the 3d of September, and from thence taken to New York by land. They were placed on board the United States sloop of war Alert, lying in New York Harbor, while the city authorities made arrangements for a public funeral. 47 These were completed on the 14th, and on Thursday, the 16th, the remains of the gallant dead were laid in their resting-place near the southwest corner of Trinity Church burying-ground, far removed from public observation. 48 Soon after the war the Corporation of the City of New York erected an elegant marble monument over the remains of Lawrence, bearing appropriate inscriptions. 49 In the course of time it became dilapidated, and in 1847 the Corporation of Trinity Church resolved to remove the remains to a more conspicuous place.


They were deposited near the southeast corner of the church, a few feet from Broadway, and over them the vestry erected a handsome mausoleum of brown freestone in commemoration of both Lawrence and his lieutenant. 50 Eight trophy cannon were placed around the mausoleum, which, with chains attached, form an appropriate inclosure. 51

The loss of the Chesapeake was followed by the capture of the little schooner Asp and the sloop of war Argus, the former in the waters of Virginia, and the latter off the British coast. The career of each was brilliant – the former in its death-struggle, and the latter in its bold cruise just previous to its capture. Their misfortunes were so tempered, in the estimation of the American mind, with deeds of great prowess, that they did not seriously affect the hopeful feelings of the nation.

The Asp was one of the small vessels fitted out by the United States government for the purpose of defending the harbors and tributary streams of the Chesapeake from the British marauders. She carried three small guns, and was commanded by Midshipman Segauny. She and the Scorpion were in the Yeocomico Creek at the middle of June, and went out together on the morning of the 14th on a cruise of observation. At ten o’clock they were discovered by a flotilla of British light vessels, which immediately gave chase. Their number was overpowering. The Scorpion fled up the Bay, and escaped; but the Asp, being a slow sailer, ran back to the Yeocomico, hoping to find shelter in shallow waters beyond the reach of the enemy. She was followed by two hostile brigs. They anchored at the mouth of the stream, and sent armed boats after the little fugitive. She was overtaken by three of them, when a sharp fight occurred. The assailants were repulsed, and retreated to the brigs. In the course of an hour, five boats, filled with three times as many armed men as the officers and crew of the Asp, attacked her. A desperate engagement followed. Midshipman Segauny and one half of his companions were disabled by death or wounds. Fifty of the enemy boarded the little vessel, overpowered her people, and refused to give quarter to those who remained. The unhurt fled from her, when the enemy, in full possession, set her on fire and returned to the brigs. On their departure, Midshipman M‘Clintock, the second officer of the Asp, who had escaped to the shore, returned to her, and, after great exertion, extinguished the flames. 52 Her commander’s body was consumed on the deck where he was barbarously murdered. 53

The Argus sailed from New York on the 18th of June [1813.], bearing William H. Crawford, of Georgia, who had recently been appointed resident minister at the French Court in place of Joel Barlow, deceased. She had lately returned from a cruise under the command of Lieutenant Commanding Arthur St. Clair, and was now in charge of Lieutenant William Henry Allen, a brave Rhode Islander, who had recently served in the United States frigate as Decatur’s second in command. She was a fine vessel of her class, and carried twenty 32-pound carronades and two bow guns. She eluded the British cruisers, and, after a voyage of twenty-three days, landed Mr. Crawford in safety at L’Orient [July 11.].

At that time the merchant marine in the waters around the British Islands was under no apprehensions of danger from American cruisers, and there was no naval force in the British or Irish Channels for the protection of commerce there. Informed of this, Allen resolved to repeat the exploits of Paul Jones in the Bonhomme Richard. He tarried only three days at L’Orient, and then sailed on a cruise in British waters. He roamed the "chops" of the Channel successfully. When satisfied with operations there, he sailed around Land’s End, and by celerity of movement, audacity of action, and destructive energy, spread consternation throughout commercial England. 54 In the course of thirty days he captured and destroyed no less than twenty valuable British merchantmen, valued at two millions of dollars. Too far away from friendly ports into which he might send his prizes, Allen burned them all. He was a generous foe, and elicited from the enemy voluntary acknowledgments of justice and courtesy. He allowed all non-combatant captives to remove their private property from the captured vessels before he applied the torch. All prisoners were paroled, and sent on shore as speedily as possible.


The Argus, after playing a winning game for a month, became the loser. On the 13th of August she captured a ship from Oporto laden with wine. Some of her cargo was taken secretly on board the Argus in the evening, and was so freely partaken of by her exhausted crew that many of them were disabled for a time when their best energies were required. She had set fire to her prize, and was moving away under easy sail, just before dawn, when a British brig, which had discovered her by the light of the blazing vessel, was seen bearing down upon her under a cloud of canvas. The British authorities had been aroused to vigorous action by the daring of the Argus, and had fitted out several cruisers to attempt her capture. The hostile vessel that now appeared was one of them, the Pelican, 18, 55 Captain J. F. Maples. She came dashing gallantly on, and Commander Allen (then master commandant by a commission dated July 24, 1813), finding it impossible to get the wind of his enemy, shortened the sail of the Argus to allow the brig to close. He flung out her colors, and at six o’clock wore and delivered a larboard broadside at grape-shot distance. The fire was immediately returned, and Commander Allen’s left leg was carried away by a round-shot. He bravely refused to be carried below, but in a few minutes, when unconscious from loss of blood, he was taken to the cock-pit. First Lieutenant Watson took command. He too was soon disabled and carried below, having been stunned by a grape-shot that struck his head. Only one lieutenant (William Howard Allen) now remained. He continued to fight the brig gallantly under the most discouraging circumstances. Her main-braces, main-spring-stay, gaff, and try-sail mast were shot away, yet never was a vessel more admirably handled. The enemy attempted to get under the stern of the Argus so as to give her a raking broadside, but young Allen, 56 by a skillful manœuvre, gave his antagonist a complete and damaging one. The Argus was sadly wounded, and began to reel. All her braces were shot away, and she could not be kept in position. The Pelican now crossed her stern and raked her dreadfully, and at twenty-five minutes past six, her wheel-ropes and nearly all her running rigging being gone, the Argus became unmanageable. Five minutes later Lieutenant Watson came on deck, when the Pelican, lying under the Argus’s stern, was pouring in a terrific fire without resistance. Farther contest seemed useless, yet an effort was made to lay the crippled American alongside of the vigorous enemy for the purpose of hoarding her. The effort failed, and, after a most determined combat for about three fourths of an hour, when the Sea Horse, the Pelican’s consort, hove in sight, the colors of the Argus were struck. At that moment the enemy boarded her at the bow and took possession.

The loss of the Argus was six killed and seventeen wounded. Of the former were Midshipmen Delphy and Edwards, and of the latter Commander Allen, Lieutenant Watson, Boatswain M‘Leod, and Carpenter White. The Pelican lost two killed and five wounded. Commander Allen survived until the next day, having in the mean time been taken into Plymouth, and placed in the Mill Spring Prison Hospital with the rest of the wounded of the Argus. On the 21st his remains were buried in a Plymouth church-yard with military honors. 57

A month before the intelligence of the loss of the Argus reached the United States, a naval victory had been gained by the Americans within sight of the New England coast, which compensated, in a measure, for the loss of the Chesapeake. Among the smaller vessels of war, such as the Nautilus and Vixen, each 14, was the Enterprise, 14, whose reputation for being "lucky" has already been mentioned. Her sisters, with the Siren, 16, of the class of the Argus, had been unfortunate. The Nautilus, as we have observed, was captured by the enemy at the beginning of the war. The Vixen, after cruising a while on the Southern coast and among the islands, commanded first by Captain Gadsden, of South Carolina, and Captain Washington Reed, was captured by the Southampton, 74, Commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo, of Lake Ontario fame. Both vessels were soon afterward wrecked on the coast of one of the Bermuda Islands, where Captain Reed perished by the yellow fever. The Siren performed very little service, and in the summer of 1814, while cruising far southward, under Lieutenant Nicholson (her commander, Captain Parker, having died on the voyage), she was captured by the British ship Medway, 74, Captain Bruce, and taken into Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope. These, as we have seen, had won renown in the Mediterranean Sea. 58

Better was the fortune of the "lucky" Enterprise. She cruised for a long time off the New England coast, the terror of British provincial privateers, under Johnston Blakeley, until he was promoted to the command of the new sloop of war Wasp, when Lieutenant William Burrows became her commander. She continued on her old cruising ground, watching for the enemy from Cape Ann to the Bay of Fundy.

On the morning of the 1st of September [1813.] the Enterprise sailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and chased a schooner, suspected of being a British privateer, into Portland Harbor on the morning of the 3d. The next day she put to sea, steering eastward in quest of British cruisers reported to be near Manhegan Island, off Lincoln County, Maine. When approaching Pemaquid Point on the 5th, Burrows discovered in a bay what he supposed to be a vessel of war getting underway. He was not mistaken. She was a British brig. On observing the Enterprise she displayed four British ensigns, fired several guns as signals for boats that had been sent ashore to return, and, crowding canvas, bore down gallantly for the Enterprise. Burrows accepted the challenge, cleared his ship for action, and after getting at proper distance from land to have ample sea-room for conflict, he shortened sail and edged toward the stranger.

It was now three o’clock in the afternoon. At twenty minutes past three the brigs closed within half pistol-shot, and both vessels opened fire at the same time. The wind was light, there was little sea, and the cannonading was destructive. Ten minutes later the Enterprise ranged ahead of her antagonist, and, taking advantage of her position, she steered across the bows of the stranger, and delivered her fire with such precision and destructive energy that, at four o’clock, the British officer in command shouted through his trumpet that he had surrendered, but his flag, being nailed to the mast, could not be lowered until the Enterprise should cease firing. It was done. The brig was surrendered, and proved to be the Boxer, 14, Captain Samuel Blyth, who, in the engagement, had been nearly cut in two by an 18-pound ball. Almost at the moment when Blyth fell on the Boxer, Burrows, of the Enterprise, was mortally wounded. He was assisting the men in running out a carronade, and, in doing so, placed one foot against the bulwark to give lever power to his efforts. While in that position, a shot, supposed to be a canister ball, struck his thigh, and, glancing from the bone into his body, inflicted a painful and fatal wound.

Both commanders were young men of great promise, and were highly esteemed in the service to which they respectively belonged. Blyth was killed instantly. Burrows lived eight hours. 59 He refused to be carried below until the sword of the commander of the vanquished vessel should be presented to him. He grasped it eagerly, and said, "Now I am satisfied; I die contented," Both received their death-wounds at the beginning of the action; and the command of the Enterprise devolved upon the gallant Lieutenant Edward R. M‘Call, of South Carolina, who conducted his part of the engagement to the close with great skill and courage. 60 He took both vessels into Portland Harbor on the morning of the 7th, and on the following day the remains of both commanders were conveyed to the same cemetery, and buried side by side, with all the honors which their rank and powers could claim. The remains of Midshipman Kervin Waters, of the Enterprise, the only one of her people mortally wounded except her commander, were laid by the side of those of his gallant leader in less than twenty days afterward, and over the graves of all commemorative monuments have been erected. 61


On the 6th of January following [1814.], the Congress of the United States, by joint resolution, requested the Chief Magistrate of the Republic to present to the nearest male relative of Lieutenant Burrows "a gold medal, with suitable emblems and devices, in testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of the gallantry and good conduct of the officers and crew in the conflict with the British sloop Boxer on the 4th of September, 1813." 62


By the same joint resolution Congress requested the President to present to Lieutenant M‘Call, "as second in command of the Enterprise in the conflict with the Boxer," a gold medal, with suitable emblems and devices. 63

In this engagement the Boxer was very much cut up both in hull and rigging, while the Enterprise suffered very little. The battle was a fair test of the comparative nautical skill and good gunnery of the combatants. Justice accords the palm for both to the Americans. A London paper, speaking of the battle, said, "The fact seems to be but too clearly established that the Americans have some superior mode of firing, and we can not be too anxiously employed in discovering to what circumstances that superiority is owing." The loss of the Boxer was a great mortification; and there can be no doubt that Captain Blyth felt full assurance of victory when he went into the contest. Indicative of this was the nailing of the flag to the mast, always a most foolish and perilous boast in advance. 64 The loss of the Boxer was several killed besides her commander, and seventeen wounded. The Enterprise lost only one killed besides her commander, and ten wounded. This was the Boxer’s last cruise as a war vessel. She was sold in Portland, and sailed from that port for several years as a merchantman. The Enterprise made only one more cruise during the war, under the command of Lieutenant Renshaw. She sailed southward as far as the West Indies in company with the fast-sailing brig Rattlesnake, Lieutenant Creighton. While off the coast of Florida she captured a British privateer, and both vessels were chased by an English seventy-four. The Rattlesnake soon fled from the sight of both consort and pursuer, while the Enterprise was hard pressed by the Englishman for seventy hours. Renshaw cast all her guns overboard in order to increase her speed. It was of little avail. Nothing saved the "lucky" little brig from capture but a favorable shifting of the wind. Not long afterward she sailed into Charleston Harbor, and was there made a guard-ship. She did not appear again at sea during the war.

The melancholy tolling of the funeral bells over the slain Burrows and Blyth had scarcely died away when merry peals of joy were heard all over the land in attestation of the delight of the people caused by Perry’s victory on Lake Erie, already fully recorded in these pages. With that victory ceased rejoicings over the exploits of the vessels of the regular navy during the remainder of the year, because, with a single exception, they were not remarkable; but the privateers then swarming upon the ocean were doing excellent service every where. The history of their doings may be found toward the close of the volume.



1 See page 461.

2 She was the Espiegle, mounting sixteen 32-pound carronades and two long 9’s.

3 John Hart, Joseph Williams, and Hannibal Boyd.

4 "So much," they said, "was done to alleviate the uncomfortable and distressing situation in which we were placed when received on board the ship you command, that we can not better express our feelings than by saying we ceased to consider ourselves prisoners; and every thing that friendship could dictate was adopted by you and the officers of the Hornet to remedy the inconvenience we otherwise should have experienced from the unavoidable loss of the whole of our property and clothes by the sudden sinking of the Peacock." This was signed by the first and second lieutenants, the master, the surgeon, and the purser of the Peacock.

5 John Place, who was in the top. It is a singular fact that there was scarcely a mark of a ball seen below the main-top. The captain’s pennant was shot from the mainmast at the beginning of the action.

6 To this fact a poet of the time, in an elegy on the death of Lawrence, wrote:

"For ’twas the proud Peacock to the bottom did go;
He lost more in saving than conquering his foe."

7 Message to Congress, Special Session, May 25, 1813. In the Memoirs of Sir Charles Napier may be found the following paragraph: "When in Bermuda, in 1813, with his regiment, Colonel Napier, writing to his mother, says; ‘Two packets are quite due, and we fear they have been taken, for the Yankees swarm here; and when a frigate goes out to drive them off by force they take her! Yankees fight well, and are gentlemen in their mode of warfare. Decatur refused Carden’s sword, saying, "Sir, you have used it so well I should be ashamed to take it from you." These Yankees, though so much abused, are really fine fellows.’ "

8 This dinner was given at Washington Hall, on Tuesday, the 4th of May. I have before me one of the original {original text has "orignal".} invitations issued by Augustus H. Lawrence, Elisha W. King, and Peter Mesier, Corporation Committee. It has a small wood-cut at the head representing a naval battle, which was drawn and engraved by Dr. Alexander Anderson, who is yet (1867) engaged in his profession, though in the ninety-third year of his age. "In the evening the gallant tars were treated to a seat in the pit of the theatre," says The War, "by the managers, and roused the house by their jollity and applause during the performance. The representations were adapted to suit the taste of the visitors and gratify the patriotic enthusiasm of the audience. Captain Lawrence, with General Van Rensselaer, General Morton, and a number of other official characters, filled one of the side boxes, and made the house ring with huzzas on their appearance."

9 The above is a picture of the medal, proper size. On one side is seen the bust of Captain Lawrence, with the legend "IAC LAWRENCE. DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI." On the reverse is seen a vessel in the act of sinking – her mizzen mast shot away; a boat rowing toward her from the American ship. Legend – "MANSUETUD. MAJ. QUAM VICTORIA." Exergue – "INTER HORNET NAV. AMERI. ET PEACOCK NAV. ANG. DIE XXIV. FEB. MDCCCXIII."


10 Amos Doolittle, an engraver of New Haven, Connecticut, who engraved on copper, immediately after the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, four illustrations of the events of that day, drawn on the spot by Earl, engraved and published a caricature concerning the fight of the Hornet and Peacock, of which the annexed picture is a miniature copy. An immense hornet, crying out "Free trade and sailors’ rights, you old rascal," is seen alighting on the head of a bull (John Bull) with the wings and tail of a peacock, and, by piercing his neck with his sting, makes the mongrel animal roar "Boo-o-o-o-hoo!!!"

11 "In the navy, at this particular juncture, the Constitution, Constellation, and Enterprise were the lucky vessels of the service, and the Chesapeake and President the unlucky. The different vessels named went into the war of 1812 with these characters, and they were singularly confirmed by circumstances." – Cooper, ii., 246.

12 Autograph letter in the Navy Department, Washington City. This was the last letter written by Captain Lawrence.

13 "I will send all other ships beyond the power of interfering with us, and meet you wherever it is most agreeable to you, within the limits of the under-mentioned rendezvous, viz., From six to ten leagues east of Cape Cod Lighthouse, from eight to ten leagues east of Cape Ann’s Light, on Cashe’s ledge, in lat. 43° N., at any bearing and distance you please to fix, off the south breakers of Nantucket, or the shoal on St. George’s Bank." – MS. Challenge.

14 MS. Letter, with Captain Broke’s signature, in the Navy Department, Washington City. This letter was sent by the hand of Captain Slocum, of Salem. He was landed at Marblehead, and made his way to Boston as speedily as possible. The Chesapeake had gone to sea, and he placed the letter in the hands of Commodore Bainbridge, the commandant of the station.

15 The Shannon was built at Chatham, in England, in 1806. She was also known as "unlucky" by the British seamen because two ships of the same name bad been previously lost. One, a 32-gun frigate, was built in 1796, and lost by shipwreck in 1800; the other, of thirty-six guns, was built in 1803, and in the same year struck the ground in a gale, and was wrecked under the batteries of Cape la Hogue. – James’s Naval Occurrences.

16 Captain Broke’s MS. Letter to Captain Lawrence. Lieutenant George Budd, who became a purser on board the Shannon, said, in his dispatch from Halifax to the Secretary of the Navy, that she had, in addition to her complement, "an officer and sixteen men belonging to the Belle Poule, and a part of the crew of the Tenedos." TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: "purser" may be a misprint for "prisoner". ENDNOTE 41 to this chapter and a search of the Internet indicate that he continued in the U. S. Naval service after June, 1813. – WDC, 10/18/2001.

17 The guns of the Chesapeake were all named. James, in his Naval Occurrences, page 232, has preserved the names of those composing one broadside of the main-deck, and some of those on the quarter-deck and forecastle, as follows:

MAIN-DECK – Brother Jonathan, True Blue, Yankee Protection, Putnam, Raging Eagle, Viper, General Warren, Mad Anthony, America, Washington, Liberty for Ever, Dreadnought, Defiance, Liberty or Death. QUARTER-DECK – Bulldog, Spitfire, Nancy Dawson, Revenge, Bunker’s Hill, Pocahontas, Towser, Willful Murder.

The Chesapeake was built at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1797, at a cost of $221,000, and was considered one of the finest vessels of her class.

18 At nine o’clock the Shannon captured a small schooner off Boston Light. The Chesapeake saw this, fired a gun, and loosed her foretop-sail as a signal for putting to sea.

19 See page 441.

20 There was great excitement at Boston and in its neighborhood when it was known that the Chesapeake had gone out to meet the Shannon. Thousands of hearts beat quicker with the desire that Captain Lawrence should add new laurels to those he had already won in his combat with the Peacock, and the harbor was soon swarming with small craft making their way out to the probable scene of action. Yet there were those who were moved by opposite feelings. The party opposed to the war was strong in Massachusetts, and when, a fortnight afterward, it was proposed in the Legislature of that state to pass a vote of thanks to the then slain Lawrence for his gallantry in the capture of the Peacock, a preamble and resolution were adopted by the Senate declaring that similar attentions already given to military and naval officers engaged in a like service had "given great discontent to many of the good people of the Commonwealth, it being considered by them as an encouragement and excitement to the continuance of the present unjust, unnecessary, and iniquitous war." The resolution was as follows:

"Resolved, as the sense of the Senate of Massachusetts, that in a war like the present, waged without justifiable cause, and prosecuted in a manner which indicates that conquest and ambition are its real motives, it is not becoming a moral and religious people to express any approbation of military or naval exploits which are not immediately connected with the defense of our sea-coast and soil." – June 15, 1813.

21 From the high grounds near Salem the inhabitants had a distant view of the engagement, and the booming of the cannon was heard far inland.

22 Cooper’s Naval History of the United States, ii., 248.

23 "Of one hundred and fifty men quartered on the upper deck," said Lieutenant Ludlow to an officer of the Shannon, "I did not see fifty on their legs after the first fire." The Shannon’s topmen reported "that the hammocks, splinters, and wrecks of all kinds driven across the deck formed a complete cloud." – Statement of Captain R. H. King, of the Royal Navy.

24 This is from a sketch by Captain R. H. King, of the Royal Navy, who was with Captain Broke in the Shannon from 1806 until 1814, excepting a short time in the spring of 1813. He rose to the rank of commander in 1828, and to captain in 1839, when he withdrew from service afloat.

25 His name was George Brown. He was exchanged. Afterward he was tried at New London, found guilty of cowardice, and sentenced to the punishment of three hundred lashes on his bare back.

26 Lieutenant Cox commanded the middle division of the gun-deck. He heard the oral orders for the boarders, and ran up at the moment when Lawrence fell.

27 The following are the first and last stanzas of a stirring poem by R. M. Charlton:

"A hero on his vessel’s deck

Lay weltering in his gore,
And tattered sail and shattered wreck
Told that the fight was o’er;
But e’en when death had glazed his eye,
His feeble, quivering lip
Still uttered, with life’s latest sigh,
‘Don’t, don’t give up the ship!’
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Oh, let these words your motto be,
Whatever ills befall;
Though foes beset, and pleasures flee,
And passion’s wiles enthrall.
Though danger spreads her ready snare
Your erring steps to trip,
Remember that dead hero’s prayer,
And ‘don’t give up the ship!’ "

28 Captain Broke behaved most gallantly in this conflict. He received, according to his report, "a severe sabre-wound at the first onset while charging a part of the enemy who had rallied on the forecastle," yet he continued his orders until he was assured of victory, when he partly fainted from loss of blood, while a seaman was tying a handkerchief around the captain’s wounded head, there was a cry, "There, sir, there goes up the old ensign over the Yankee colors!" Washington Irving, in an account of the engagement, in the Analectic Magazine, says that Samuel Livermore, of Boston, who, from personal attachment to Lawrence, had accompanied him as chaplain, attempted to avenge his fall. He shot at Captain Broke, but missed him. Broke made a stroke at Livermore’s head with his sword, which the latter warded off, but in so doing received a severe wound in the arm.

29 Captain Broke’s Report.

30 There is a curious coincidence in the history of the Shannon and the American frigate Constitution. Within a few days of each other, in the summer of 1860, these two vessels, whose names are dear to their respective nations, and both, in maritime parlance, ranking as invalids, were equipped and sailed on a cruise. The conqueror of the Chesapeake left Portsmouth, England, and at about the same time the Constitution left Portsmouth, Virginia, on a short cruise, preparatory to her taking her station at Annapolis as a school-ship. Each was about to be broken up many years ago, and each was saved by poetical remonstrances – one by Tennyson, and the other by Holmes. The stirring poem by Holmes may be found on page 437.

31 William Augustus White was a native of Rutland, Vermont, and was only twenty-six years of age. He was represented as a noble and generous young man. His loss was greatly deplored by his friends, who regarded him as a young man of great promise. A friendly hand wrote:

"Columbia’s page in gen’rous strain shall tell
Those deeds of courage where her Lawrence fell;
Honor shall gild the hero’s spotless shrine,
And thine, O WHITE! with kindred lustre shine."

32 Edward J. Ballard was an active and very promising young man. He was appointed a midshipman in February, 1809, and was commissioned a lieutenant on the day after the action in which he lost his life. The commission was issued before news of the action reached the Department. "Anxious to render himself useful, and to share in the glory acquired by our naval heroes," wrote a friend, "he left (though scarcely recovered from an indisposition of several months) the peaceful asylum of friendship for his home on the ocean, and terminated with honor a well-spent life of virtue."

33 James Broome, the commander of the marines, was a native of New Jersey. He was appointed a midshipman in July, 1807. Of the forty-four marines under his command on board the Chesapeake, twelve were killed and twenty wounded.

34 From a sketch by Captain R. H. King, R. N.

35 James Lawrence was born at Burlington, New Jersey, on the 1st of October, 1781. He was left to the tender care of two sisters, his mother having died a few weeks after his birth. He exhibited a passion for the sea at the age of twelve years, but his father designed him for the profession of the law. He entered upon a course of studies with his brother John at Woodbury at the age of fourteen years, and soon afterward lost his father. Law was distasteful to him. He longed for the sea, and his brother gave him the opportunity of acquiring preparatory knowledge. He applied for a situation in the navy at the age of eighteen years, and entered the service as a midshipman in the ship Ganges, Captain Tingey, in the autumn of 1798. He was transferred to the Adams. He was commissioned a lieutenant, and was first officer of the Enterprise in the war with Tripoli. Decatur, in his official reports, acknowledges his services in the bombardment of Tripoli. After his return from the Mediterranean he was for some time attached to the Navy Yard at New York. He became first lieutenant on the Constitution, and in succession commanded the Vixen, Wasp, Argus, and Hornet. He married in New York in 1808. At the commencement of the war in 1812 he sailed in command of the Hornet, having been made master commandant in November, 1810. Off Demerara he fought the Peacock and sunk her. He returned to New York, where he was soon ordered to Boston to take command of the Chesapeake. In her he died on the 5th of June, 1813.

36 Cooper’s Naval History of the United States; Thomson’s Sketches of the War; Perkins’s History of the late War; James’s Naval Occurrences; Memoir of Captain Broke, In Naval (London) Chronicle; Irving’s Memoir of Lawrence, Analectic Magazine; Niles’s Register; The War; Captain Broke’s Report of the Battle; Auchinleck’s History of the War; Lieutenant Budd’s Report to Secretary of the Navy; O’Byrne’s Naval Biography; The Essex Register, Boston Chronicle, and National Intelligencer.

37 Mr. Croker, principal secretary to the Lords of the Admiralty, said in his place in the House of Commons, "It was not – and he knew it was a bold assertion which he made – to be equaled by any engagement which graced the naval annals of Great Britain."

38 Philip Bowes Vere Broke was born in Suffolkshire, England, on the 9th of September, 1776. He was educated at the Royal Academy in Portsmouth, and entered the navy in 1792. He served in the war between France and England, and commanded the Shannon in cruises for the protection of the British whale fisheries in the Greenland seas. He was in that service when war between the United States and Great Britain was declared. He was then dispatched with a small squadron to blockade the New England ports. Because of his services in the capture of the Chesapeake he was raised to the dignity of baronet, and made Knight Commander of the Bath. Sir Philip married in early life Sarah Louisa, daughter of Sir William Fowle Middleton. He was one of the most active and useful officers of the British Navy until his retirement, bearing the commission of Rear Admiral of the Red. He died in Suffolk County on the 3d of January, 1841, at the age of sixty-five years.

39 A picture of this plate was published in London on the 2d of December, 1816, a copy of which, on a reduced scale, is given above. The plate is described as being made of silver, and forty-four inches in diameter. It was enriched with emblematical devices commemorative of the acts of the recipient on the occasion of his capture of the Chesapeake. These devices are described as follows: The centre, enriched with a wreath of palm and laurel leaves, with groups of Nereids and Tritons, presents the spectacle of the battle between the Shannon and Chesapeake. A deep and highly-finished border composes the exterior of the circle, in which are significant devices in four principal divisions. In the first compartment, in the form of an escalop-shell, is seen Neptune receiving the warrior. The former is issuing from the sea with his attendants, and presenting to the hero (who is borne in a triumphal car, attended by Britannia and Liberty bearing the British flag) the naval coronet. In the compartment opposite Britannia is seen on a sea-horse, holding the trident of Neptune in one hand, and with the other hurls the thunder of her power at the American eagle, which is expiring at her feet in the presence of ocean deities. In a third compartment the device represents the triumph of Victory. The winged goddess, bearing a coronal, approaches in her shell-car drawn by ocean steeds, and offers peace to the vanquished. In the fourth compartment is represented the four quarters of the world, in the form of figures, assembled under the protection of the British lion, commerce having been secured to the world by British prowess. Besides these are the figures of Fortitude, Justice, Wisdom, and Peace, intended to represent the characteristics of the British nation.

On the plate the following inscription was engraved: "Struck with the gallantry, skill, and decision displayed by Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, Baronet, K. C. B., commander of his Majesty’s frigate, the Shannon, in the attack, boarding, and capture of the American frigate, the Chesapeake, of superior force in men and metal, and under the command of a distinguished captain of light horse, on the 1st of June, 1813, achieved in the short space of fifteen minutes, the inhabitants of Suffolk, the victor’s native county, anxious to evince their sense of his spirited, judicious, and determined conduct in thus adding another brilliant trophy to the unrivaled triumphs of the British Navy, with a spontaneous burst of feeling voted him this tribute of their affection, gratitude, and admiration."

40 Augustus C. Ludlow was son of Robert Ludlow, Esq., and was born at Newburg, New York, in 1792. He entered the navy as a midshipman in April, 1804, and in the summer of that year sailed in the President for the Mediterranean Sea. He returned home in the Constitution, then commanded by Captain Campbell, in 1807. He remained in her, under Commodore Rodgers, until promoted to lieutenant, in June, 1810, when he was placed in the Hornet. When Lawrence became her commander he was charmed with Ludlow’s character, and his knowledge of his young friend’s worth made him cheerfully continue him in his service on the Chesapeake as his first lieutenant.

41 For Lieutenant Budd’s dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy from Halifax, June 15, 1813, see Brannan’s Official Letters, Military and Naval, Washington, 1823, page 167. He was appointed midshipman in the autumn of 1805, commissioned a lieutenant in May, 1812, and master commandant in March, 1820. He died on the 3d of September, 1837.

42 These were Holton J. Breed, first officer; Samuel Briggs, second officer; and John Sinclair, Jeduthan Upton, Stephen Burchmore, Joseph L. Lee, Thomas Bowditch, Benjamin Upton, and Thorndike Proctor, all masters of vessels. Mark Messurrey, cook, and Nathaniel Cummings, steward.

43 A company under Captain Peabody fired minute-guns in Washington Square.

44 The bells in Boston, fifteen miles distant, were tolled at the same time, and the flags upon the shipping in the harbor were displayed at half-mast. Minute-guns were fired by the Constitution and other vessels there.

45 The committee of arrangements applied for the use of the North Meeting-house (Dr. Barnard’s), "particularly on account of its size and the fine organ which it contained." They were refused, the committee of the proprietors saying that they had no authority "to open the house for any other purpose than public worship."

46 The death of Lawrence was the theme of several elegiac poems written and published in different parts of the country. Some of them were printed on satin, with emblematic devices, and were framed and hung up in houses.


The annexed rough picture is a fac-simile of one of these devices, one third the size of the original, designed and engraved by A. Bowen, of Boston, and printed at the head of an elegy, on satin, at the office of the Boston Chronicle. I am indebted to the kind courtesy of Miss Caroline F. Orne, of Cambridgeport, for a copy of the original, and for other interesting papers made use of in this work.

47 In the arrangements made for the funeral a substantial testimonial of regard was agreed to, in the form of an appropriation of one thousand dollars each for the two children of Captain Lawrence, to be vested in the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund of the Corporation, the interest to be applied to the use of the recipients, and the principal to be given to the daughter when she should arrive at the age of eighteen years, and to the son at the age of twenty-one years.

48 This was the third time that funeral honors had been paid to the remains of the hero. On this occasion the procession, composed of members of both branches of the military service and civilians, was very large, and moved from the Battery through Greenwich Street to Chambers, up Chambers to Broadway, and down the latter street to Trinity Church-yard.


49 The design of the monument was simple and appropriate, for Lawrence was a young man at the time of his death. It was a broken column of white marble, of the Ionic order, the capital broken off and lying on the base. The inscription, simple and dignified, was as follows:

"In memory of Captain James Lawrence, of the United States Navy, who fell on the 1st day of June, 1813, in the thirty-second year of his age, in the action between the frigates Chesapeake and Shannon. He distinguished himself on various occasions, but particularly when he commanded the sloop of war Hornet, by capturing and sinking his Britannic Majesty’s sloop of war Peacock after a desperate action of fourteen minutes. His bravery in action was only equaled by his modesty in triumph and his magnanimity to the vanquished. In private life he was a gentleman of the most generous and endearing qualities; and so acknowledged was his public worth, that the whole nation mourned his loss, and the enemy contended with his countrymen who most should honor his remains."

On the reverse were the words: "The hero whose remains are here deposited, with his expiring breath expressed his devotion to his country. Neither the fury of battle, the anguish of a mortal wound, nor the horrors of approaching death could subdue his gallant spirit. His dying words were, ‘DON’T GIVE UP TUE SHIP!’ "

I saw fragments of this old monument lying by the side of a small building in Trinity Church-yard late in the autumn of 1863. The slabs bearing the above inscriptions were afterward deposited in the Library of the New York Historical Society, where they may now be seen carefully preserved.

50 It bears the following inscriptions: North Side. – "In memory of Captain James Lawrence, of the United States Navy, who fell on the 1st day of June, 1813, in the thirty-second year of his age, in the action between the Chesapeake and Shannon. He was distinguished on various occasions, but especially when, commanding the sloop of war Hornet, he captured and sunk his Britannic Majesty’s sloop of war Peacock after a desperate action of fourteen minutes. His bravery in action was equaled only by his remarkable modesty in triumph and his magnanimity to the vanquished. In private life he was a gentleman of the most generous and endearing qualities; the whole nation mourned his loss, and the enemy contended with his countrymen who should most honor his remains." East Side. – "The heroic commander of the frigate Chesapeake, whose remains are here deposited, expressed with his expiring breath his devotion to his country. Neither the fury of battle, the anguish of a mortal wound, nor the horrors of approaching death could subdue his gallant spirit. His dying words were, ‘DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP!’ " West Side. – A low-relief sculpture representing the hull of a double-decked ship of war. South Side. – "In memory of Lieutenant Augustus C. Ludlow, of the United States Navy. Born in Newburg, 1792. Died at Halifax, 1813. Scarcely was he twenty-one years of age when, like the blooming Euryalus, he accompanied his beloved commander to battle. Never could it have been more truly said, ‘Hic amor unus erat paritarque in bella ruebant.’ The favorite of Lawrence, and second in command, he emulated the patriotic valor of his friend on the bloody decks of the Chesapeake, and when required, like him, yielding with courageous resignation his spirit to Him who gave it."

51 These cannon were purchased from the government by General Prosper M. Wetmore, then Navy Agent at New York, and by him presented to the Corporation of Trinity Church for the use to which they are devoted. They were selected by him from among the cannon at the navy yard which had been captured from the English during the war, as most appropriate for the purpose. The strict requirements of the law were complied with in the transaction. Each gun bore its national insignia, with an inscription declaring the time and place of its capture. When the cannon were planted in the place they now occupy, the vestry of the church, with singular courtesy, put them so deep in the ground that the insignia and trophy-marks are out of sight. The reason given was that, in a community like New York, where there are so many English residents, it might seem like an unfriendly act to parade such evidences of triumph before the public eye.

52 Midshipman M‘Clintock’s Letter to the Secretary of the Navy, July 13, 1813.

53 Thomson, in his Historical Sketches of the War, page 225, says that Commander Segauny was shot through the body with a musket-ball, and was sitting on the deck against the mast when the British brought down his colors. In this attitude, and while suffering severely, he animated his men in the fight around him to repel the boarders. Seeing this, a cowardly British marine stepped up and shot him through the head, killing him instantly. Observing this, and concluding no quarter was to be given, M‘Clintock ordered a retreat for shore. This was safely accomplished by about half of the twenty-one defenders of the Asp.

J. B. Segauny was from Boston, and had served under Lawrence in the Hornet. He was only about twenty-one years of age at the time of his death, and had been five years in the service.

54 Her operations were so alarming that for a while very few vessels left British ports, and the rates of insurance rose to ruinous prices. In several instances insurances could not be effected at all, so great was the risk considered.

55 She carried one 12 and sixteen 32 pound carronades, and four long 6’s.

56 William Howard Allen was not nearly, if at all, related to Commander Allen. His career in the navy was an honorable one. He was in command of the United States schooner Alligator in 1822, and in the autumn of that year he lost his life in a contest with pirates. The main incidents of his life are given briefly in the following inscriptions on his monument, a structure eighteen and a half feet in height, erected to his memory in the Hudson Cemetery, in the city of Hudson, Columbia County, New York, his birth-place:


West Side. – "To the memory of WILLIAM HOWARD ALLEN, lieutenant in the United States Navy, who was killed in the act of boarding a piratical vessel on the coast of Cuba, near Matanzas, on the 9th of November, 1822, Æ. 32." *

South Side. – "WILLIAM HOWARD ALLEN. His remains, first buried at Matanzas, were removed to this city by the United States government, and interred, under the direction of the Common Council of this city, beneath this marble erected to his honor by the citizens of his native place, 1833."

East Side. – "William Howard Allen was born in the city of Hudson, July 8, 1790; appointed a midshipman in 1801 and a lieutenant in 1811, he took a conspicuous part in the engagement between the Argus and Pelican in 1813, and was killed while in command of the United States schooner Alligator."

North Side. –

"Pride of his country’s banded chivalry,
His fame their hope, his name their battle-cry;
He lived as mothers wish their sons to live –
He died as fathers wish their sons to die!"

A beautiful model of this monument may be seen in the navy yard at Charlestown, Massachusetts.

William Leggett wrote a poem on the death of Allen, in which occurs the following stanza:

"Mother of Allen, weep not for your son!
His race was glorious, but too soon ’twas run.
Yet weep not! Vengeance sleeps. She is not dead;
She yet will thunder on his murderer’s head.
Sisters of Allen, dry your tearful eyes;
The hero’s soul hath flown to yonder skies,
And long his name, in memory’s holiest shrine,
Will wear the wreath which matchless virtues twine!"

* On her way home, after this encounter with the pirates, the Alligator was wrecked. This accident was the occasion of a poem by John G. C. Brainerd.

57 William Henry Allen was born at Providence, Rhode Island, on the 21st of October, 1784. His father was an officer in the Revolution. He entered the navy in his eighteenth year (April, 1800), and made his first cruise with Bainbridge in the Washington. In 1805 he was acting lieutenant in the Constitution, under Rodgers, and was the lieutenant of the Chesapeake when she was attacked by the Leopard in 1807, who touched off, by means of a live coal, the only gun fired at the enemy on that occasion. See page 158. He was with Decatur in the capture of the Macedonian, and gained great credit at that time as executive officer of the ship, and for his skill and celerity in repairing the damage to the prize. See page 456. He was esteemed as one of the best men of his class in the navy. He was very gentle in his deportment, and, as we have observed in the text, he won the esteem of the British nation while spreading consternation throughout its commercial circles. That esteem won for him an honorable burial among those who were his enemies only in war. He was not quite twenty-nine years of age at the time of his death.

A London paper of August 27, 1813, contained a long account of the ceremonies on the occasion of the funeral of Commander Allen. Officers of the Royal Marines formed a guard of honor, attended by the Royal Marine Band. Eight captains of the Royal Navy were pall-bearers. Allen’s own officers were chief mourners. The American vice-consul was in attendance, and a large procession of the inhabitants followed the hearse. The coffin was covered with the American flag. In the church (St. Andrew’s) to which it was taken the vicar read the funeral service of the Anglican Church.

58 See Chapter VI.

59 Portland Argus, September 8, 1813; Perkins, page 181.

William Burrows was born at Kenderton, near Philadelphia, on the 6th of October, 1785. His father was wealthy, and he was left mostly to the guidance of his own inclinations concerning life pursuits. He gave early indications of a love for the naval service. In November, 1799, he entered the service as a midshipman. He was in active service until the close of difficulties on the Barbary coast, and applied himself diligently to the study of his profession. He continued in service until the breaking out of the war, when, on his way to the United States from the East, he was made a prisoner. He reached home in June, 1813, and went immediately into the service. His movements with the Enterprise are recorded in the text. His death was a cause for sincere grief throughout the land. No portrait of the young hero was ever painted, and for that reason the medal struck in honor of the victory of the Enterprise does not contain his effigy, as usual.

60 Edward Rutledge M‘Call was born at Charleston, South Carolina, on the 5th of August, 1790, and was five years the junior of his commander. He entered the navy as a midshipman at the age of fifteen years, and was first on duty in the Hornet, Captain Dent. He joined the Enterprise, under Blakeley, in 1811, as a lieutenant, and was serving in that capacity under Burrows at the time of the battle above recorded. He wrote to Commodore Hull a very interesting account of that engagement. He was afterward transferred, first to the Ontario, and then to the Java, Commodore Perry, and with that officer cruised in the Mediterranean Sea until 1817. On his return he took command of the sloop of war Peacock, also preparing to cruise in the Mediterranean. In March, 1825, he was promoted to master commandant, and in March, 1835, he received the commission of captain.

61 The funeral ceremonies on the occasion were solemn and imposing. I am indebted to the Honorable William Willis, of Portland, who participated in them, for much information concerning the event. At his solicitation, Mr. Charles E. Beckell, of the same city, kindly furnished me with the sketch of the tombs of Burrows, Blyth, and Waters printed below.

The two bruised vessels lay at the end of the Union Wharf, and from them the coffins of the two deceased officers were received by the civil and military procession, which had been formed at the court-house at nine in the morning of the 9th of September, under the direction of Robert Ilsley and Levi Cutter, assisted by twelve marshals. The coffins containing the bodies were landed from the vessels in barges of ten oars each, rowed by minute strokes of ship-masters and mates, accompanied by most of the barges and boats in the harbor. When the barges commenced to move, and during the solemn march of the procession from the wharf up Fore and Pleasant Streets to High Street, thence down Main and Middle Streets to the Rev. Mr. Payne’s meeting-house, minute-guns were fired by the artillery companies of Captains Bird and Varnum. These were continued while the procession marched from the meeting-house to the Eastern Cemetery, about a mile distant. The chief mourners who followed the corpse of Lieutenant Burrows were Dr. Washington, Captain Hull, and officers of the Enterprise. Those who followed the corpse of Captain Blyth were the officers of the Boxer, on parole. Both were followed by naval and military officers in the United States service, the crews of the two vessels, civil officers of the state and city, military companies, and a large concourse of citizens. Captain Blyth was one of the pall-bearers at the funeral of Lawrence, at Halifax, a few weeks before.


The remains of Burrows, Blyth, and Waters were buried by the side of each other. Over their graves stand oblong monuments about six feet in length, two and a half feet in width, and about the same in height. Blyth’s, seen nearest in the accompanying sketch by Mr. Beckell, is a brick foundation covered with a marble slab, on which is the following Inscription: "In memory of Captain SAMUEL BLYTH, late commander of his Britannic Majesty’s brig Boxer. He nobly fell, on the 5th day of September, 1813, in action with the United States brig Enterprise. In life, honorable; in death, glorious! His country will long deplore one of her bravest sons, his friends long lament one of the best of men! Æ. 29. The surviving officers of his crew offer this feeble tribute of admiration and respect."

Burrows’s monument is composed of red sandstone, forming deep, broad panels on sides and ends, and bearing a recumbent marble slab. It is the middle one in the sketch. On the slab is the following inscription – "Beneath this stone moulders the body of WILLIAM BURROWS, late commander of the United States brig Enterprise, who was mortally wounded on the 5th of September, 1813, in an action which contributed to increase the fame of American valor, by capturing his Britannic Majesty’s brig Boxer after a severe contest of forty-five minutes. Æ. 28. A passing stranger has erected this memento of respect to the manes of a patriot who, in the hour of peril, obeyed the loud summons of an injured country, and who gallantly met, fought, and conquered the foeman."

The "passing stranger" above mentioned was Silas M. Burrows, of New York, who, being in Portland, visited the cemetery, saw the neglected condition of the young hero’s grave, and ordered a monument to be built. A poet unknown to the author afterward wrote thus:

"I saw the green turf resting cold

On Burrows’s hallowed grave;
No stone the inquiring patriot told
Where slept the good and brave.
Heaven’s rains and dew conspired to blot
The traces of the holy spot.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
At length a ‘passing stranger’ came,
Whose hand its bounties shed;
He bade the sparkling marble claim
A tribute for the dead;
And, sweetly blending, hence shall flow
The tears of gratitude and woe."

The tomb of Midshipman Waters is a marble slab resting on four round sandstone pillars. On the slab is the following inscription: "Beneath this marble, by the side of his gallant commander, rest the remains of Lieutenant Kervin Waters, a native of Georgetown, District of Columbia, who received a mortal wound, September 5, 1813, while a midshipman on board the United States brig Enterprise, in an action with his Britannic Majesty’s brig Boxer, which terminated in the capture of the latter. He languished in severe pain, which he endured with fortitude, until September 25th, 1813, when he died with Christian calmness and resignation, aged eighteen. The young men of Portland erect this stone as a testimony of their respect for his valor and virtues."

62 The picture above given is the exact size of the medal. On one side is seen an urn standing upon an altar, around which are grouped military and other emblems, on one of which (a trident) hangs a victor’s chaplet of laurel leaves. Upon an elliptical panel on the side of the altar is seen "W. BURROWS," in prominent letters. Around the whole is the legend "VICTORIAM TIBI CLARAM. PATRIÆ MÆSTAM." On the reverse is seen the two brigs engaged in combat, the main-top-mast of the Boxer shot away. Over them the legend "VIVERE SAT VINCERE." Exergue, "INTER ENTERPRIZE NAV. AMERI. ET BOXER NAV. BRIT. DIE IV SEPT. MDCCCXIII." The date should be the 5th instead of the 4th.

63 On one side the bust of Lieutenant M‘Call and the legend "EDWARD R. M‘CALL NAVIS ENTERPRISE PRÆFECTUS." Exergue, "SIC ITUR AD ASTRA." The reverse the same as on that of Burrows.

64 Cooper relates (ii., 260, note) that, when the Enterprise hailed to know if the Boxer had struck, as she kept her flag flying, one of the officers of the British vessel leaped upon a gun, shook both fists at the Americans, and shouted "No, no, no!" at the same time using some strong opprobrious epithets. The excited gentleman’s superiors were compelled to order him down. His movement created much merriment on board the Enterprise.



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