Victory at Sea, 25 October 1812

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Capture of HMS Macedonian, October 25, 1812

One hundred and ninety-eight years ago, the young United States Navy gained a victory at sea against the world’s most powerful Navy, when the USS President defeated the HMS Macedonian in a sea battle  west of the Canary Islands. Captain Stephen Decatur used his sailing skills and long-range firing accuracy to destroy Macedonian’s mizzen top mast, which let her driver gaff fall. Once Decatur clearly had sailing advantage, he methodically fired upon the ship until the Macedonian struck her colors.  She was repaired and placed into U.S. Naval service.

Captain Stephen Decatur, United States Navy

On board the USS President was the Secretary of the Navy’s son, young midshipman Archibald Hamilton. Decatur selected him to deliver the Macedonian’s battle flag to Washington and young Hamilton arrived during a ball honoring the Navy held by Dolly Madison, the President’s wife. His father, Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, watched as his midshipman son laid the prizes of war at the feet of President Madison’s wife.  The Hamilton’s were from the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, 1809-1813

Archibald Hamilton would be promoted to Lieutenant for his service under Decatur, but would be killed in a running sea battle on January 15, 1815. The treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24th, 1814, but the news had not made it to the Atlantic seaboard of the United States. Alas, the cruelties of war!

Read more detail on the battle between President and Macedonian here…

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4 thoughts on “Victory at Sea, 25 October 1812

  1. Bring Back
    Frigate USS United States
    At the end of the American War for Independence our Country was literally unarmed. All the armed services were mustered out. The Continental congress was reformed as the United States Congress. Army units were scattered throughout the countryside and were reformed into the United States Army. Because of the intrusive French and Algerian privateers so close to the coast the Revenue Cutter Service was formed under the Treasury Department.
    Under the Acts of Congress of 1794, Provisions for Naval Armament, the United States Navy was formed. Later the United States Marines were formed under these same Acts. Under the naval acts there were to be six frigates built for the newly formed United States Navy. The first of these frigates was the USS UNITED STATES out of Philadelphia; a 44-gun frigate, the First Ship of the United States Navy.
    The USS UNITED STATES was Flagship of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific. She served during the Quasi-War with France, the War of 1812, the War with Mexico, as a Slave Trade Market deterrent, and the American Civil War.
    During the War of 1812, the USS UNITED STATES, under the command of Stephen Decatur, Jr., she defeated the HMS Macedonian, a crack British frigate. In an engagement off the Azores near the Canarie Islands, the UNITED STATES reduced the misfortunate British vessel to a floating slaughterhouse hulk. The British prize suffered 104 casualties while the USS UNITED STATES suffered only 12. The USS UNITED STATES was the first US naval warship to bring an enemy warship as prize to our Country. The battle flag of the HMS Macedonian was hand delivered to Dolly Madison who placed it around her shoulders and paraded around a great naval ball already in progress celebrating two previous victories within the first six months of the War.
    During the American Civil War she was in ordinary and was acquired by the Confederacy and, by the orders of Robert E. Lee, became the First Ship of the Confederacy as the CSS UNITED STATES. She was left in a sinking condition and rotted in the Elizabeth River until she was raised to be saved. But the public lost the fight to save her and she perished by the yard’s axe men. Her mighty oak was still green and resisted the Axe men’s attacks to her end. Scrapping was started in December of 1865 and completed in January 1866.
    Nothing remains of this gallant OLD WAGGON. We lost an icon of our country to abuse and neglect. Now, a movement has been rekindled to build a full-scale seaworthy replica of this lost National Treasure. The legwork has been completed after efforts started September 1978. Project Old Waggon is doable and would be a Majestic Splendor if completed, as a working and living museum. Please help. Contact Ed. Zimmerman, Jr.; Founder, President and CEO. USSUNITEDSTATES@GMAIL.com . Help this seaworthy full-scale replica become a reality again and be part of the Spirit of America that once roamed the seas to protect the rights of free people, seamen, and free trade all over the world. Join today.

  2. Old Waggon
    A tribute to the frigate USS UNITED STATES
    First Ship of the United States Navy
    by Ed. Zimmerman, Jr. Founder & President USS US Fdn.
    In 1797, 1:15, the 10th of May;
    the cannon roared, the people cheered,
    the first was on her way.
    In all majestic splendour her bulk slid down the ways,
    To the Delaware’s surrender her heavy body swayed.
    The USS United States, Old Waggon she became,
    from the City of Philadelphia she sailed the seas to fame.

    She sported copper cladding supplied by Paul Revere;
    Her artwork carved by William Rush her thick green timbers jeered
    Captained by ol’ John Barry of Revolutionary years to protect our
    merchantmen from French and Algerian privateers.

    During the War of 1812 her height peaked her career,
    When she met the pride of the British, Macedonian, a ship to fear.
    Royal Navy’s Captain Carden was commanding on that day, thought
    Old Waggon was the Essex, a price he soon would pay.
    Decatur was commanding, UNITED STATES was in pursuit.
    The two ships paralleled their course, to the victor no dispute
    First broadside from UNITED STATES, a salvo that had missed.
    The British ship returned the flame, Old Waggon cracked and hissed.
    Decatur returned the favor to his gunners’ thunder gleemed
    Brought down the British spanker, from her was just routine

    For our gunners dismantled methodically
    Macedonian’s hulk by choice
    Until the misfortunate vessel
    struck her colors hoist.
    The engagement lasted an hour and a half as best could tell
    To the British 104 were lost, to Old Waggon only 12.
    Returning to Hell Gate New York, high mark of naval lore
    Old Waggon made a grander show, the British lost the score.
    The USS United States, Old Waggon she became,
    from the City of Philadelphia she sailed the seas to fame.

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