During the first seven months of the War of 1812, the U.S. Navy scored three stirring victories at sea that caused the British to reassess their opponent and its formidable frigates.
On 18 June 1812, the United States found itself at war, once again, with Great Britain. Isaac Hull, captain of the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution , was quickly ordered to sail his vessel north from the Chesapeake to rendezvous with Commodore John Rodgers’ squadron. Off New Jersey, Hull encountered a fleet of warships that he mistakenly took to be Rodgers’ squadron. Upon realizing his mistake, the American captain altered his course, and thus began one of the most celebrated sailing escapes in the history of the U.S. Navy. As Constitution gunner Moses Smith would remember years later: “we were pursued alone, by the shores of our native country, and a more resolute set of men never smelt salt water. There hung on the mast, drooping silently in the calm sky, the ensign we all loved so well; and as we looked toward it . . . we were determined . . . that it should never go down but with the ship.” 1