Naval Duels in War of 1812
having their coastline bottled up by an almost-watertight
British blockade, the American raiders who eluded the Royal
Navy net caused considerable damage to Britain's trade.
By mid-1814, more than 800 British vessels had been taken,
forcing the Royal Navy to escort trade convoys.
Art of Paul Deacon
August: USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere
Having broken through the British naval blockade, the 44-gun
Constitution took on a 38-gun Guerriere off Nova Scotia.
Within 30 minutes the American crew had crippled its smaller
October: USS Wasp vs HMS Frolic
The Wasp and the Frolic were each 18-gun sloops and set
to battle off the coast of Virginia. For more than 40 minutes
the crews hammered at each other until the British vessel
was reduced to little more than a wreck. The American's
sails and masts, however, had been so badly damaged it was
unable to sail away from an arriving British 74-gunner and
it was forced to surrender.
October: USS United States vs HMS Macedonian:
The 44-gun United States, under Captain Stephen Decatur,
took on the British 38-gunner Macedonian off Madeira. Bombarding
from long range, the United States pulverised the enemy
ship and forced it to surrender.
To add insult to British injury, the Macedonian was repaired,
reflagged and fought again - this time for America.
December: USS Constitution vs HMS Java
The duel between these frigates took place off Brazil and,
once again, ended in an American victory. It took two hours,
but the Java was left a wreck and its captain forced to
February: USS Hornet vs HMS Peacock
In just 11 minutes, the Peacock was sunk off Brazil.
June: HMS Shannon vs HMS Chesapeake
Freshly built and with an inexperienced crew, the Chesapeake
took on one of the Royal Navy's best ships in the Shannon.
Both were 38-gunners, but the British were able to out-sail
and out-shoot the Americans and within minutes had inflicted
enough damage to board the Chesapeake. The British suffered
83 casualties, while the Americans lost 146 men. The captured
vessel was reflagged and served Britain with distinction.
August: HMS Pelican vs USS Argus
The 18-gun Argus was enjoying a very profitable commerce-raiding
voyage in the English Channel - in which she had sunk or
taken 20 prize ships - when she ran into the Pelican. The
20-gun British sloop exacted quick revenge and sank the
September: USS Enterprise vs HMS Boxer
Sailing off New England the British 14-gunner was intercepted
and taken by the Enterprise.
April: USS Peacock vs HMS Epervier
A 45-minute battle off Florida saw the British 18-gunner
strike its colours.
March: HMS Phoebe vs USS Essex
For almost a year-and-a-half, the 38-gun Essex had been
raiding British trading routes and had at least 40 scalps
to its credit. Sailing with a smaller ship, the Americans
found themselves blockaded in a Chilean port by the Phoebe
and an 18-gun sloop, Cherub. A risky breakout in heavy weather
proved disastrous for the Essex as its main mast snapped
and it was forced back to port. The British then fired upon
the stricken vessel from long range until it was smashed
June: USS Wasp vs HMS Reindeer
The Wasp engaged the Reindeer in the English Channel and
sunk it within 30 minutes. She then went on to capture 13
September: USS Wasp vs HMS Avon
This night action saw the 18-gun Avon sunk by the successful