April's item of the month: The real 'Master and Commander'

April's item of the month looks at the real life drama on the seas which happened 200 years ago last week.....The hunt for the Essex inspired Patrick O'Brian's Far Side of the World and in turn the 2003 film, Master and Commander. But Hollywood has airbrushed out the American ship and replaced it with a fictitious French vessel, Acheron.

Essex PAD5847

During the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States, an American war ship the USS Essex was sent into the Pacific to attack the British whaling fleet. After a search of several months, the Royal Navy discovered the American ship in the port of Valparaiso, (Chile). A stand off of six weeks in the neutral harbour saw insults and fisticuffs exchanged in the waterside taverns culminating in the Americans running up a banner saying 'Free Trade and Sailor's Rights'. The British responded with 'God and Country: Traitors offend both'. The stand off ended when the Essex made a bid to escape to the open sea....Take up the story at: http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/collections/by-type/archive-and-library/item-of-the-month

Pass the salt, Aubrey....