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 55463 (extended caption)

USS Hornet captures HMS Penguin, 23 March 1815

Colored lithograph by S. Walters , after a sketch by William Skiddy, depicting the two sloops close aboard during the engagement, which took place in the South Atlantic off Tristan d'Acunha.
Note that the erroneous date of 23 January 1815 appears on the print.
The text under the image is reproduced below.

Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland. Beverly R. Robinson Collection.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 120KB; 740 x 585 pixels


The following text is provided on the original artwork:

"Hornet ... Penguin"
"January 23rd (sic) 1815"

"When she first descried Hornet in the N.W.byW. Penguin was steering to the Eastward with the wind from S.S.W. With all the promptitude that was to be expected from the gallant first lieut. of Cerberus in the action off Lissa, Captn. Dickinson bore up in chase. At 1.45 p.m. Tristan d'Acunha bearing S.W. distant 3 or 4 miles Penguin hoisted her colours and fired a gun. Hornet immediately luffed up on the larboard tack, hoisted American colours, and discharged her broadside. Thus the action commenced within about pistol shot distance. Hornet's star and bar shot soon reduced Penguin's rigging to a state of disorder, and a tolerably well directed discharge of round and grape, meeting no adequate return, especially as the carronades, owing to their insecure mounting, turning half round at every discharge. At 2.15 as Penguin drifted nearer, Hornet bore away to take up a more favourable position for her gunnery. Captn. Dickinson on this bore up with the intention to board. Captn. Dickinson received a mortal wound, and Lieut. James McDonald in carrying out his Captain's measure ran Penguin's bowsprit between Hornet's main and mizzen rigging on the starboard side, and after carrying away Hornet's mizzen shrouds, stern davits and spanker boom, broke in two, and foremast went at the same time, falling in board on the larboard side. The guns becoming in consequence completely disabled and Penguin was in too unmanageable a state to be got round. In this dilemma no alternative remained, and at 2.35 Lieut. McDonald hailed to say that Penguin surrendered."

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.

4 April 2003