The legendary battle between H.M.S. Shannon
and the USS Chesapeake
during the Anglo-American War of 1812-14 is one of the most renowned naval encounters of the nineteenth century and probably the quickest and most decisive frigate action ever fought. Captain Philip Broke, in command of the Shannon
, came across the Chesapeake
refitting in Boston Harbour and swiftly challenged her to come out and fight. At about noon on June 1st 1813, Captain James Lawrence brought Chesapeake
out into the open sea and after merely fifteen minutes, was forced to surrender. After first firing two devastating broadsides, Broke led his boarding party onto Chesapeake
but was so badly injured that he had to surrender his command. Casualties on both sides were exceptionally high – 48 Americans, including Captain Lawrence, were killed and 96 wounded whilst Shannon
suffered only slightly less with 33 dead and 50 wounded. Despite his injuries, Captain Broke survived to be rewarded with a baronetcy and enduring fame, although he never recovered sufficiently to be able to return to active service.
This work was commissioned for and then engraved and reproduced in Ralfe’s splendid 'Naval Chronology of Great Britain' 1803 to the End of the Year 1816, published in three volumes in 1820.