Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Capture of H.B.M. Frigate Macedonian...by the U.S. Frigate United States...

War on the High Seas, Late 1812

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War on the High Seas, Late 1812

On 18 October, four days after departing the Delaware River, Master Commandant Jacob Jones in the sloop U.S.S. Wasp encountered the sloop H.M.S. Frolic  about 200 miles north of Bermuda escorting a convoy out of Honduras.  After a battle of almost an hour, Frolic was taken with heavy casualties.  Jones was engaged in making repairs to his ship when he was overtaken by H.M.S. Poictiers, which offered battle.  Unable to take up the challenge, Jones struck his colors.  He and his men were conveyed to Bermuda as prisoners

A week later Commodore Stephen Decatur sailing in U.S.S. United States encountered H.M.S. Macedonian in the Atlantic between the Azores and Cape Verde Islands.  After heavy fighting of more than an hour and a half, Macedonian surrendered.  Decatur repaired his prize so that he could bring it to back to port, arriving at New London, Connecticut in early December.  The country, already giddy with the news of Constitution’s victory over Guerriere, was sent into another paroxysm of joy.  Macedonian was repaired and entered U.S. service as U.S.S. Macedonian, but was blockaded into port along with United States for the rest of the war by the British navy.

The year ended with another important victory by U.S.S. Constitution, this time with Commodore William Bainbridge commanding.  Blockading H.M.S. Bonne Citoyenne in Bahia, Brazil in company with U.S.S. Hornet, Constitution encountered H.M.S. Java with a merchant prize.  The two maneuvered and fired for more than two hours, with the Java finally surrendering after it had been disabled and facing the prospect of being hit with a raking fire.  Too damaged to risk bringing along as a prize, Bainbridge evacuated Java and burned it.  He gained more than 300 prisoners, as Java was carrying many officers and men expecting to join warships in the Caribbean.  Constitution returned to the United States to be greeted with accolades.  The action prompted the British Navy to issue orders that its frigates were no longer allowed to engage United States’ frigates in single combat.