As the U.S. sloop Hornet skirted the Corobana Bank to approach the British brig-of-war Espiegle at 1530 on 24 February 1813, Master-Commandant James Lawrence sighted another sail on his weather quarter, “edging down upon us.” Lawrence had just given up pursuit of another brig to avoid running into shallow water. The Hornet ’s commander, who had been appointed a midshipman at 16, was described as possessing “the temperament of a highly bred race horse, sensitive, quick, and impulsive.” Now 31, he had been “well taught . . . in that rough school of war [that] inevitably produces the best and most skillful officers,” having distinguished himself in the Tripolitan War.