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Online Library of Selected Images -- Picture Data

Photo #: NH 42907 (extended caption)

Action between USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon, 1 June 1813

Artwork depicting the two frigates exchanging gunfire early in the battle, which took place off Boston, Massachusetts.
The text under the image is reproduced below.

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

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 121KB; 740 x 600 pixels


The following text is provided on the original artwork:

"Chesapeake and Shannon"
"June 1st 1813"

"At 0.55 p.m. Cape Ann bearing N.N.E½E distant 10 to 12 miles Shannon filled, and stood out from the land under easy sail. At 1 p.m. Chesapeake rounded the lighthouse under all sail, and at 3.40 hauled up and fired a gun. Presently Shannon hauled up and reefed topsails. At 4.50 Chesapeake took in her stunsails, topgallant sails and got her royal yards on deck. At 5.30 to be under command, and ready to wear if necessary, thinking it not unlikely that the Chesapeake would pass under Shannon's stern, Captain Broke divided his men, and to be prepared to lie down as the enemy's ship passed. But Captain Lawrence, at 5.40 gallantly luffed up, within about 50 yards, and squaring his main yard, gave three cheers. The captain of Shannon's 14th gun (William Mindt ?) and was fired, in a second or so the 13th gun was fired, then the Chesapeake's bow gun went off, and then the remaining guns on the broadside of each ship as fast as they could be discharged. At 5.56, her helm, probably from the death of the man stationed at it, being for the moment unattended to, Chesapeake came so sharp to the wind as completely to deaden her way, with her stern and quarters exposed to her enemy's broadside. The Shannon's aftermost guns now took a diagonal directon along the decks of the Chesapeake, beating in her stern ports, and sweeping the men from their quarters. At 6.p.m. Chesapeake fell on board the Shannon, with her quarter pressing upon the latter's side, and hooking with her port quarter the fluke of Shannon's anchor stowed over the chess-tree. Captain Broke ordered the ships to be lashed together, the maindeck boarders and the quarter deck men, under Lieut. G.T.L. Watt to be called away. Mr. Stevens the boatswain, and Mr. Samnell, midshipman, were mortally wounded. At 6.2 Captain Broke stepped from Shannon's gangway rail on to the muzzle of Chesapeake's aftermost carronade, and over the bulwark, upon the quarterdeck. Here not an officer or man was to be seen. Upon Chesapeake's gangway made slight resistance 25 or 30 Americans but the remainder laid down their arms and submitted. The act of changing Chesapeake's colours proved fatal to a gallant British officer, as owing to the halliards being entangled he commenced to hoist with the American Ensign above instead of below the British ensign. Observing the American stripes going up first the Shannon's people re-opened their fire, and killed their own first-lieut and four-five of their comrades. Between the discharge of the first gun and the period of Captain Broke's boarding (9 ?) minutes only elapsed, and in 4 minutes afterwards the Chesapeake was completely his. Captain Lawrence was killed in the action, and buried at Halifax with military honours such as a post-captain in the British Navy would be entitled to."

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4 April 2003