Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

USS Constitution vs HMS Java

Two ships in battle, the British ship is pointing its bow at the American ship, which is firing its cannons
Description: Painting, Oil on Canvas; By Anton Otto Fischer; C.1960; Framed Dimensions 28H X 38W
Accession #: 60-362-A
Related Content

On the morning of 29 December, USS Constitution was sailing in the Atlantic just off the coast of Brazil when sails were sighted on the horizon.  Constitution's new captain, William Bainbridge, altered course to investigate; the ship proved to be HMS Java. Both frigates stood for each other and cleared their decks for action.  After the initial hail from Bainbridge, Java answered with a broadside that severely damaged Constitution's rigging. Constitution was able to recover, and returned a series of broadsides to Java. At that point, Java's bowsprit became entangled in Constitution's rigging, allowing Bainbridge to continue raking Java with broadsides until her foremast collapsed, sending the fighting top crashing down two decks below.  Drawing off to make emergency repairs, Bainbridge approached Java an hour later, and the British ship surrendered.  Determining that Java was far too damaged to retain as a prize, Bainbridge ordered the ship burned.

Topic
Document Type
  • Art
Wars & Conflicts
  • War of 1812 1812-1815
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Location of Archival Materials
  • NHHC