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Otsego Herald

July 11, 2013

American Frigate Lost


American Captain James Lawrence (1781-1813) was an American hero for his bravery during the first Barbary War in 1804. He was mortally wounded during the combat with the Shannon, and as he lay dying called out “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” which — though not heeded in this case — became a favorite U.S. Navy slogan.

British Captain Philip Broke (1776-1841) had given his men unusually rigorous training in gunnery, and as the ships approached instructed his gunners to: “Throw no shot away. Aim every one. Keep cool. Work steadily. Fire into her quarters – main-deck to main-deck, quarterdeck to quarterdeck. Don’t try to dis-mast her. Kill the men and the ship is yours.” Broke led the men who boarded and captured the Chesapeake, suffering a serious head wound, from which he only partially recovered.

This was very welcome news for the British, after the victories won by the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) the previous year. British Captain Broke became an instant British hero; he was created a Baronet, given a rare gold medal, and eventually became a Rear Admiral. A well-known ballad was written about the fight.

Bye-Bye Dearborn

Letter from Major General Lewis to the Secretary of War, June 14, 1813.

SIR—You will perceive by the enclosed copy of orders...that Gen. Dearborn, from indisposition, has resigned his command, not only of the Niagara army but the District. I have doubts whether he will ever again be fit for service. He had been repeatedly in a state of convalescence; but relapses on the least agitation of mind ... MORGAN LEWIS

COMMENT: Major General Henry Dearborn (1751-1829) was at this time “Senior Officer of the United States Army,” in charge of the Northeast sector. A distinguished veteran of the Revolution, in which he served from the Battles of Bunker Hill to Yorktown, he was Secretary of War under President Jefferson from 1801-1809, where he worked on a project to send Native Americans to the other side of the Mississippi River. Called to active duty in the War of 1812, his performance ranged from doubtful to incompetent.

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Otsego Herald
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