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GUNS Magazine May 2012 Digital Edition - Page 54
Story and Photos: Jeff John ctober, 25 1812 the dismasted HMS Macedonia, her upper guns damaged and the ship rolling so badly her lower gunports dipped under water, lowered her colors and surrendered to USS United States commanded by Captain Stephan Decatur. Decatur, upon accepting the surrender allowed Macedonia’s Captain John Carden to keep his sword. Quoting Decatur some years later Carden wrote, “And then turning round to his Marines, who were the only Native Americans* in his ship & all Rifle Men, He exclaimed, ‘You call yourselves Rifle Men, & have allow’d this very Tall & Erect Officer, on an open Quarter Deck to escape your Aim.’” O Carden added, “Had he been better acquainted with the true state of this point of their Exertion, & that of the Howitser Cannon mounted in each of their Tops, he might have been content & spar’d himself the remark.—For out of Fifty two Officers & Men Quartered on my quarter Deck, only eight & myself Escap’d Death or being desperately Wounded.” Carden would later partially explain his defeat by decrying how he was undermanned at only 259 men and officers at quarters while the United States was manned by crack British seamen, saying, “This Force (& perhaps being the worst Man’d Ship in the British Navy [Macedonia]) oppos’d to Four Hundred thorough bred, Prime British Seamen, & 78 Officers & Rifle Men as Marines, Native of America, could not be expected to do much service….” Carden, after observing the guns of the United States on the main deck all bore names, noticed one had been named Nelson after the British seamen and Marines would’ve used the old 77-caliber P1778 Brown Bess. Royal Marine Lt. Law of HMS Shannon used a Bess to shoot down USS Chesapeake’s Captain James Lawrence, who died of his wounds 4 days later. USS Chesapeake fell to HMS Shannon after a bloody ship-to-ship action June 1, 1813. Fighting From 54 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • M AY 2 0 1 2 US Marines used 1803 rifles aboard US fr