hms guerriere


August 1812, the US frigate Constitution, 44 guns, fell in with HMS Guerriere, 38, off the coast of Nova Scotia.  The British Captain Dacres, eager to prove his nation’s mastery of the seas, quickly closed with Constitution, intending to give battle.  Guerriere proved hopelessly outclassed in the action, as the US frigate’s 24 pound main battery effectively destroyed Guerriere within 45 mintues, while the British ship’s 18 pound guns could do little damage to Constitution.  The British suffered over 100 killed and wounded while only 14 Americans were killed or injured.  After the battle, Dacres was exchanged, and exonerated at his subsequent court martial, his main excuse for the lopsided defeat being that Guerriere was originally captured from the French, meaning his ship was not built to British standards.   


USS Constitution von jelpics
Über Flickr:
The USS Constitution sailing under its own power in honor of the 200th anniversary of its victory over HMS Guerriere.


Today we mark the 200th anniversary of the USS Constitution’s defeat of the HMS Guerriere in which she earned the name “Old Ironsides” for the cannonballs that bounced over her sides. An 1890 tracing by A H Dutton of her sail drawing is in the lab. Treatment will remove pressure sensitive tape and stains from the tracing linen, made from a drawing by Charles Ware in 1817.

On Sunday, the USS Constitution sailed across Boston Harbor to commemorate the battle, for the first time since the bicentennial in 1997 of its launching.