From the Otsego Herald
for Saturday, July 10, 1813
Compiled, with comments
by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL
USS Chesapeake vs. HMS Shannon
Letter from the Surgeon’s mate of USS Chesapeake, to a friend, dated Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 8, 1813
“The whole number of killed and wounded are estimated at about 160 or 170. I need not inform you of our misfortune in losing the Chesapeake, as you already too well know it; nor will I attempt to state to you the particulars of the action ... The captain is dead, & was buried here this morning in a becoming manner.”
Letter from the Surgeon of USS Chesapeake, same date and place
“About 44 minutes past 5, when within pistol shot of the Shannon, we received her broadside which we returned, and at the first Capt. Lawrence was wounded in the leg. Three or four broadsides were exchanged, when the ship had her head topsail tie shot away and her spanker brails fouled by cut rigging.
“Captain Lawrence was wounded through the body mortally by a musket ball ... The ship being unmanageable, she fell on board the Shannon, when they immediately threw 200 men on our decks. Our boarders were called away, but the man whose duty it was to give the signal from fright or some other cause did not give it. Lieut. Budd was informed...that the boarders were called away — he instantly ... sprang on deck, but was severely wounded, having but a part of his men; the rest having followed a rascally boatswain’s mate into the hold. I have not time to be more particular.... Capt. Lawrence mortally wounded — died the 4th of June ... We lost from 40 to 60 killed and 104 wounded, 15 mortally. Capt. Broke of the Shannon is like to recover.”
COMMENT: The British Frigate HMS Shannon defeated and captured the American Frigate USS Chesapeake on June 1, 1813, in the Atlantic near Boston. The two ships were about equally matched and the duel lasted only a few minutes. The Shannon then took the captured Chesapeake to the British naval base at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where it became a British warship.