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The Chesapeake vs. The Shannon

The British frigate "Shannon" was under the command of Captain Philip Bowes Vere Broke. The American frigate "Chesapeake" was commanded by Captain James Lawrence. The "Chesapeake" carried 50 guns, 26 broadsides, 28 long 18 pounders on the gun deck, and on the spar deck two long 12 pounders, one long 18 pounder, and eighteen 32 - pound carronades, and one 12 pound carronade. The crew of the American frigate consisted of 379 men.

On June 1st, 1813, at about noon, the "Chesapeake" left Boston Harbour. At 5:30 p.m. the American frigate was heading right for the "Shannon". The British captain feared the "Chesapeake" would pass under the "Shannon's stern and rake her deck. But for some reason Captain Lawrence overlooked his advantage. At 5:50 the "Shannon" opened fire, the "Chesapeake" replyed with a heavy broadsides. Although the American broadsides were inflicting heavy damage on the British frigate, the "Chesapeake" also suffered greatly from the British frigate's guns. Minutes later with her jib sheet and foretop sail tie shot away, the "Chesapeake" was exposed to the "Shannon's" heavy broadsides. These broadsides inflicted heavy cassualties on the American crew, but they continued to exchange cannon fire with the British frigate.

At 6:00 p.m. the two frigates came together, the British captain ordered the two ships lashed together. On board the "Chesapeake" there was mass confusion. Captain Lawrence while standing on deck giving orders to his crew was shot down, he was carried below exclaiming "Don't Give Up The Ship".

At 6:02 Captain Broke and 20 men boarded the "Cheaspeake", as they did the American gun crews left their guns and ran below deck. The only man that seemed to make a stand was the chaplain, Mr. Livermore, who came toward the British captain firing his pistol. Captain Broke stopped him with a swipe of his Toledo blade which nearly severed the chaplain's arm, he died later of his wounds.

The marines continued to defend the "Chesapeake" bravely, but of the 44 men, 14 were dead and 20 were wounded.

Lieutenant George Budd tried to get the crew below to follow him up on deck to defend the ship, but only a few followed him. They repulsed the British briefly, then surrendered. Captain Broke wrote: "The enemy fought desperately, but in disorder."

At 6:05 p.m. the "Chesapeake's" colours were hauled down ending the battle, 15 minutes after the first shot was fired.

The "Chesapeake" had 61 killed and 85 wounded. The "Shannon" had 33 killed and 50 wounded. The British sailed the American frigate to Halifax, Nova Scotia where the American Captain James Lawrence and Lieutenant Ludlow were buried with military honours.