Lest We Forget

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

As the two ships drew near to one another, Barney kept his gunports closed and his guncrews hidden hoping to convince the British captain that he intended only to present a moving target to screen his fleeing convoy and buy them time to escape. Rogers took the bait and, heading straight for the Hyder-Ally , was bow on to the American in a classic "crossing the T" situation when Barney opened his gunports and fired a broadside of round shot, grape, and canister. The barrage found its mark, damaging the main mast and shredding many of the General Monk 's sails. The two ships began exchanging broadsides, a tactic that put the Hyder-Ally at a disadvantage because of the enemy's heavier firepower, so Barney decided that boarding the enemy was his best bet. Closing the distance, he quietly told his helmsman to "follow my next order by the rule of the contrary." When the ships were very close, he yelled to the helmsman, "Hard a-port your helm." As Barney hoped, Rogers heard the order and immediately ordered the General Monk to come "hard a-port" as well, so that the two vessels would pass close aboard but not make contact. To his astonishment, the Hyder-Ally came right instead, and in seconds the two ships collided and were locked in a deadly embrace. Savage hand-to-hand fighting ensued. As Barney climbed atop the binnacle box to direct the action, a musket ball passed through his hat, leaving a minor scalp wound in its wake, and another passed through the tail of his coat, evoking a less-than-polite curse from the young captain. The binnacle box was soon shot out from under him, but Barney was not injured.

After 26 minutes, the brawl was over, with the more powerful British ship in American hands. The victor had suffered 4 killed and 11 wounded, while the vanquished had lost 20 killed and 33 wounded. In his 1845 The History of the Navy , James Fenimore Cooper described the victory as "one of the most brilliant . . . under the American flag."

Lieutenant Commander Cutler is the author of several books, including A Sailor's History of the U.S Navy and Brown Water, Black Berets .
 

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

More by this Author

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