Plate 1. Situation of His Majesty's Frigate Java... Action with the American Frigate Constitution... rendered totally unmanageable

A hand-coloured aquatint depicting the three-hour battle between 'Constitution', the US frigate, and 'Java', its British opponent, one hour into the battle. This single-ship combat, which took place on 29 December, 1812, was part of the War of 1812 in which the US had declared war on Britain as a result of, among other things, trade restrictions brought about by the British war with France, and the impressment of as many as 10,000 American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy. 'Java' was out-matched by 'Constitution's' highly experienced crew and the weight of her broadside.

This is the first in a series of three prints illustrating the capture of the 'Java' by the 'Constitution'. It shows the crew of the heavily-damaged 'Java' at the bow attempting to board the 'Constitution'. The 'Java' (left) is shown starboard broadside with her foremast broken and hanging off the side of the hull. The 'Constitution' (right) is shown starboard quarter, fully intact with only damage to her sails from cannon fire.

The print is inscribed: "Plate 1. Situation of His Majesty's frigate JAVA, Captain Lambert, at 5 mins past 3pm, after an hour's close and severe action with the America frigate CONSTITUTION, in which she was so much disabled in her masts, sails and rigging, by the enemy's very superior force and weight of metal, that in the attempt to board, with every prospect of success, her foremast fell, and she was rendered totally unmanageable."

Object Details

ID: PAH8107
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Buchanan, after; Pocock, Nicholas Havell, Daniel Boydell, John Havell, Robert
Vessels: Constitution (1797); Renommee (1808)
Date made: 1 Jan 1814
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 433 x 515 mm; Mount: 575 mm x 644 mm

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