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David Porter wherein the author wrote:
gave me the utmost pain, as it was attended by
th k- t^le Carly days- officer of the Navy recognized e ffiding force of the duel in the settlement of their -°nal differences. During the first 50 years of the tesd 1798~1848’ the mortality of naval officers,
u tlng from duels, was two-thirds that resulting from a wars. Duelling was regarded as an especially offi r0y>riate metdod redressing grievances for naval 5frs because their profession was that of arms.
^ idshipmen were the principal duelists in the old avy. Not having much rank, they were jealous of q at rhey had. And, living as they did in crowded n- arters on board ships which afforded many opportu- ^ les for misunderstanding and disagreement, they U %ht for what might seem to us to be trivial
cord>tlS °r n° reason at ad' Thus, of 82 officially re- ^cd duels, midshipmen participated in 52.
all the duels fought by naval officers, one which p rred in 1813 was of particular interest to President tpeln D. Roosevelt. His interest began on reading J0Urnal of a Cruise made to the Pacific Ocean, by ave now the painful task of mentioning an occu rrence
® P£L 1 >P •yyiio f-lto 'ii+’vy>s\c+ * 4- d L.,
^premature death of a promising young officer, whereby an^erVKe a* ^as received an irreparable injury,
£ b a practice which disgraces human nature, l shall, andVer’ *^row a ve^ over whole previous proceedings on ^^ state’ ^at without my knowledge, they met
fell °Ve’ ^ an^ at third fire> Atr. Cowan
dead. His remains were buried the same day in the 0 where he fell, and the following inscription was pLaced over his tomb:
Cowan was buried under a tree and a wooden headboard placed over his grave with the obituary composed by a fellow officer, lieutenant McKnight.
The log of the Essex is missing for this date, but an examination of ship movements places the Essex as lying off James Island, Galapagos Archipelago, when this duel took place. Early in the I6th century Spanish navigators discovered these islands and gave them the name of Galapagos, derived from galapago, a tortoise, on account of the giant species which abound. English buccaneers, for whom the group formed a convenient retreat gave the individual islands English names.
On one of his early fishing vacations, President Roosevelt, called at James Island and encouraged officers and men to go ashore from the naval vessel and search for the grave of Lieutenant Cowan. Their efforts were unsuccessful but a careful examination was made of all logical sites. So many wild cattle and large dogs inhabit James Island, that the amateur archaeologists went ashore accompanied by a squad of riflemen. Thereafter and up until World War II, whenever a ship of the Special Service Squadron, based in Panama, had occasion to sail through the Galapagos, they made a stop at James Island, to resume the search for the grave of Lieutenant Cowan. The writer participated in one of these fruitless searches from the USS Erie in 1940.
Whether this periodic search is being continued is not known, but it seems likely that Lieutenant Cowan will remain undisturbed in the lost grave of Galapagos.
SACRED to the memory °F LIEUTENANT JOHN S. COWAN,
°F the u. s. frigate essex
WHO DIED HERE ANNO 1813, aGED 2l YEARS.
^IS LOSS IS EVER TO BE REGRETTED BY HIS COUNTRY;
AND MOURNED BY HIS FRIENDS AN° BROTHER OFFICERS.