On 9 February 1799, the U.S. frigate CONSTELLATION was cruising in Caribbean waters when a lookout reported an unidentified ship just over the horizon. Captain Thomas Truxtun ordered his ship to come about, then went below to record in his log: “At noon saw a sail standing to westward, gave chase. I take her for a ship of war.” The pursuit continued for about an hour with the CONSTELLATION gradually gaining. Drawing closer, it became apparent that the other ship was a heavily armed frigate. A lesser captain with a lesser crew might have decided to look for an easier… Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the 'Quasi War with France' Category
It is frequently the case that a ship is given the name of an individual as a honorarium. Names such as Campbell, Fletcher, Porter, and many, many others are accepted in kind. So when individuals are given the name of a ship, suddenly we take notice that something very remarkable is afoot. Such is the case of the surname Ganges. The story of how a family came to be named after a 26-gun sloop-of-war is one that upholds the finest traditions of the U.S. Navy.
By Joshua L. Wick, Naval History and Heritage Command From Commander-in-Chief of the British Squadron off Newfoundland to architect and superintendent of the Navy Yard in Washington D.C., Commodore Thomas Tingey might not have had a gallant naval career but his experiences and knowledge of the sea surely set him up to become a distinguished and notable leader in our Navy’s history. This is especially true today at the Washington Navy Yard on the 215th anniversary of its establishment. With the establishment of the United States Navy in 1794, Tingey started his naval career with his commissioning as a captain… Read the rest of this entry »
Constitution’s “Trojan Horse” Of all the “forgotten wars” in the history of the United States, the undeclared Quasi-War with France (1797-1801) likely ranks at the top of the list. A sea war, the young United States put its untested, brand-new war ships into the Caribbean to protect American merchant shipping from the depredations of French privateers. USS Constitution, commanded by Captain Silas Talbot and first Lieutenant Isaac Hull, sailed for the West Indies in September, 1799. April 1800, found Talbot sailing Constitution near Puerto Plata harbor, observing the British Sandwich, now a French letter of marquee, loading. Talbot aimed to… Read the rest of this entry »