Return to Naval Historical Center home page. Return to Online Library listing

WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Online Library of Selected Images -- Picture Data

Photo #: NH 42066 (extended caption)

Action between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere, 19 August 1812

Artwork depicting the victorious Constitution sailing past the the dismasted British frigate Guerriere.
The text under the image is reproduced below.

Courtesy of Mr. Beverly R. Robinson, March 1937.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 158KB; 740 x 605 pixels


The following text is provided on the original artwork:

"Constitution and Guerriere"
"August 19 1812"

"About 2 P.M. the Guerriere standing by the wind, under topsails, foresail, jib, and spanker, with the wind blowing fresh from the N.W. discovered the Constitution bearing down towards her. At 4.30 the Guerriere laid her maintopsail to the mast to enable Constitution the more quickly to close, the latter then about 3 miles distant, shortened sail to double reefed topsails and went to quarters. At 4.45 Guerriere hoisted one English ensign at the peak another at the mizzentopgallant mast-head and a Union Jack at the fore. At 5.5 PM having run up one American ensign at the peak, lashed another to the larboard mizzen rigging and hoisted a third flag at the foretopgallant mast-head, the Constitution opened her fire and setting her maintopgallantsail brought the Guerriere to close action on the larboard beam, both ships steering with the wind on the larboard quarter. At 6.5 Guerriere's mizzenmast was shot away, it fell over the starboard quarter, knocking a large hole in the counter, and bringing the ship up into the wind. At 6.15 the two ships fell aboard each other Guerriere's bowsprit getting foul of the Constitution's starboard mizzen rigging. The crew of the latter now prepared to board Guerriere, but in addition to the impracticability of the attempt owing to the motion of the ships, a shot from a British marine brought down the American first lieutenant of marines, another musket shot passed through the body of the first lieutenant of the ship, and a third shot entered the shoulder of the master. The riflemen in the Constitution's tops, in the meantime continued their unerring fire. Captain Dacres was wounded in the back, but would not quit the deck. In a few minutes the ships got clear. Some of the wads from Guerriere's foremost guns set fire to Constitution's cabin, which was soon extinguished. Guerriere's bowsprit striking Constitution's taffrail, slacked the forestay, and the foreshrouds, being mostly shot away, the mast fell over on the starboard side crossing the mainstay, the sudden jerk carried the mainmast along with, leaving Guerriere a defenceless wreck, rolling her maindeck guns in the water. While the British frigate was in this state, Constitution at 6.45pm. having rove new braces, wore round and took a position within pistol shot on her starboard quarter. It being utterly in vain to contend any longer Guerriere fired a lee gun and hauled down the Union Jack from the stump of her mizzenmast."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

If you want higher resolution reproductions than this digital image, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Return to Naval Historical Center home page.

18 February 2003