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Otsego Herald

February 28, 2013

'Shocking Barbarity'


“The Java was rated a 38, but carried 49 guns. She was just out of dock, and fitted in the most complete manner … [and] going to join the British ships of war in the East Indies.

“[In addition] to her own complement of officers and men complete, she had upwards of 100 supernumeraries of petty officers and seamen, for the Admiral’s ship, and other vessels in the East India stations.

“She also had despatches from the British government for St. Helena, the Cape of Good Hope, and to every British establishment in the East Indies and China Seas; and had copper on board for [sheathing] a 74 gun ship and two sloops of war building at Bombay; and it is presumed much other valuables all of which were blown up in her on December 31 when she was set on fire.

“The Constitution was considerably cut in spars, rigging and sails. But not so much injured but what she could have commenced another action immediately after the capture of the Java, which latter vessel was made a complete unmanageable wreck.

“All the officers and seamen taken in the Java, were paroled by Commodore Bainbridge and landed on the 3rd of January, at St. Salvador [Bahia, Brazil].

COMMENT: Though the Constitution was both larger and better armed than the Java, this naval victory was very important in maintaining American morale in a year that otherwise went very badly in our war with Britain. To parole a captured enemy meant to set him free on his undertaking not to fight again against America unless “exchanged” for a similar number of paroled Americans released under similar undertakings. Failure of American militia to carry out such promises would prove a major cause of anger among Indians fighting for the British — leading to atrocities such as those associated with the British attack on Cherry Valley.

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Otsego Herald
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