The "Argus", commanded by Captain Sinclair sailed east capturing six valuable merchant men and returned to port on January 3rd. During this cruise the "Argus" was pursued for three days and three nights by a British squadron. The crew of the "Argus" made the ship lighter so it would sail faster. After getting rid of the ships anchors and boats the "Argus" was able to pull away.
The "United States" was commanded by Stephen Decatur. Decatur had made a name for himself when he boarded the captured "Philadelphia" in Tripoli Harbour and burned her. In Admiral Nelson of the Royal Navy's view, it was one of the most daring and bold acts of the times.
The "United States" sailed southeast towards Madeira. On the morning of October 25th 1812 the crew sighted a large sail, this turned out to be the "HMS Macedonian"
The "Macedonian" was commanded by Captain John Surnam Carden. The British frigate was newly built of oak. Captain Carden after seeing the "United States" turned towards her. At this point there seems to have been some discussion on the tactics that should be used. The British 1st Lieutenant was in favour of crossing the Americans bow and raking her from ahead. Captain Carden decided to fight a long range battle.
At 8:30 a.m. with the two ships approximately one mile apart the "Macedonian" fired three ranging shots from her port battery which fell short into the ocean. The "United States" answered with a broadside from her 24- pounders that had some effect. After passing the Americans main battery Captain Carden wore his ship but Commodore Decatur pulled away and out of range of the British gunners. The American ship resumed her original coarse increasing the distance between the two ships. At this distance the advantage would be in the American's favour because they were using the heavier 24-pounders.
The British frigate took a pounding for fifteen minutes when Captain Carden decided he had to close with the Americans and fight at a shorter range. Commodore Decatur manoeuvred the "United States" so the British could not get any closer.
From this position the "Macedonian" was slowly shot to pieces. The damage was extensive, the British frigate lost her mizzen top mast, main yard and top sail. Despite this damage the British crew fought on for thirty minutes more. Eventually, both the top masts and the whole of the mizzen mast came crashing down.
The "United States" sailed past the bow of the "Macedonian" and did not fire a shot, instead pulled away and made some repairs. After approximately one hour the American ship returned, the 1st Lieutenant on the "Macedonian" wanted to fight on to the death but cooler heads prevailed and the British ship struck her colours and surrendered.
Commodore Decatur decided that bringing the "Macedonian" into port would be a boost to the American war effort. They made the necessary repairs and brought the captured British frigate into port where many visitors came to see her and hear stories of the battle.
The British losses were 36 dead and 68 wounded. The American losses were 7 dead and 5 wounded.
**NOTE** Captain Carden was acquitted at his court martial, but he was criticized for not being able to out manoeuvre the "United States", which was also known in the American Navy as the "Wagon".