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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Chesapeake vs HMS Shannon

Chesapeake versus Shannon happened on June 1st 1813 in Boston Harbor and is refered to as the Battle of Boston Harbor.

At Boston, Captain James Lawrence took command of Chesapeake on May 20 1813, and on June 1, put to sea to meet HMS Shannon, commanded by Captain Philip Broke. Broke had issued a written challenge to Chesapeake's commander, but Chesapeake sailed before it was delivered.

Chesapeake fared poorly in the early exchange of gunfire, having her wheel and part of her rigging shot away, rendering her unmanoeuvrable. Lawrence was killed. The American crew struggled to carry out their captain's last order, "Don't give up the ship!", but the British overwhelmed them. The battle was intense and lasted ten to fifteen minutes, in which time 252 men were killed or wounded including the Shannon's captain who was seriously injured.

Chesapeake and her crew were taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the sailors were imprisoned; the ship was repaired and taken into service by the Royal Navy. She was sold at Portsmouth, England, in 1819 and broken up. Surviving timbers are included in the nearby Chesapeake Mill in Wickham.