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Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

Revolutionary War
• Opening Of The Revolution
• The Boston Massacre
• Affair of the Sloop Liberty
• Affair of the Gaspee
• The Tea Riot
• The Boston Port Bill
• The First Continental Congress-Consequent Parliamentary proceedings
• Organization of the Minute-Men
• Patrick Henry-Second Provincial Congress-First Military Enterprise
• Battles of Lexington and Concord
• Battle of Bunker's Hill
• Capture of Ticonderoga
• Second Continental Congress-Washington's Appointment
• Siege of Boston
• Incidents at the Evacuation of Boston
• Burning of Falmouth
• Arnold's Expedition to Quebec
• Siege of Quebec, and Death of Montgomery
• Scenes at Quebec during the Siege
• Expedition against Charleston
• The Declaration of Independence
• The Battle of Long Island
• Washington's Retreat through New Jersey-Capture of General Lee
• Battle of Trenton
• Battle of Princeton
• Capture of General Prescott
• Battle of Brandywine
• Battle of Germantown
• Battle of Red-Bank
• Attack on Fort Mifflin-Retirement of the Army to Valley Forge
• Battle of Bennington
• Murder of Miss M'Crea
• Battle of Stillwater
• Battle of Bemis' Heights, and Retreat of Burgoyne
• Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery
• Surrender of Burgoyne
• The Treaty with France
• Attack on Savannah, and Death of Pulaski
• Storming of Stony Point
• General Sullivan's Campaign against the Mohawks
• Tarleton's Quarters
• Battle of Camden, and Death of De Kalb
• Arnold's Treason
• The Loss of the Randolph
• The British Prison-Ships
• Capture of the Serapis
• Putnam's Feat at Horseneck
• Battle of Eutaw Springs
• Wayne's Charge at Green Spring
• Capture of the General Monk
• The Mutinies
• Battle of the Cowpens
• Capture of New London
• Massacre of Wyoming
• Surrender of Cornwallis

War With France
• Capture of L'Insurgente
• The Constellation and Vengeance

War With Tripoli
• Burning of the Philadelphia
• Bombardment of Tripoli
• Loss of the Intrepid
• Expedition of General Eaton

Second War With England
• Battle of Tippecanoe
• Capture of the Guerriere
• Tragical Affair of an Indian Chief
• Battle and Massacre at the River Raisin
• Captain Holmes's Expedition
• Capture of the Caledonia and Detroit
• The Wasp and Frolic
• Gallant Conduct of Lieutenant Allen at the Capture of the Macedonian
• Capture and Destruction of the Java
• Siege of Fort Meigs
• Capture of York, and Death of General Pike
• Defence of Sackett's Harbour
• Defence of Fort Stephenson
• Battle of Lake Erie
• Battle of the Thames
• Gallant Action of Commodore Chauncey under the guns of Kingston Citadel
• The Sacking of Hampton
• Capture of the Peacock
• Massacre at Fort Mimms
• Surrender of Weatherford
• Battle of Niagara
• BattIe of New Orleans

War With Mexico
• Battle of Palo Alto
• Battle of Resaca de la Palma
• Capture of Monterey
• Battle in the Streets of Monterey
• Thrilling Scenes in the Battle of Buena Vista
• Bombardment of Vera Cruz
• Battle of Cerro Gordo
• Battles of Contreras and Churubusco
• Storming of Chapultepec


ON the 9th of February, 1799, Commodore Truxtun, in the Constellation, came in sight of a large ship, and immediately gave chase. The stranger hoisted American colours; but, unable to answer the Constellation's private signals, she ran up the French ensign, and fired a challenge. For the first time since the Revolution, one of our national vessels was in sight of an enemy. We had fought and triumphed on land; now we were to meet the powers of the Old World upon sea. Every man was eager to engage; and, as the gallant ship moved down upon the enemy, her speed seemed too small to meet the anxious longing of her crew. They were not disappointed. The Insurgente waited calmly for her opponent; and, when the latter opened her fire, returned it with spirit. The silence was broken; the eager antagonists had their wish; and one loud cannonade roared across the solitary waters, rocking the surface of ocean like an earthquake, and heaving the ships to and fro with mighty energy. Nearer and nearer they drew to each other, and louder and fiercer the conflict grew, until nothing was heard but the roar of heavy ordnance, and nothing seen except a thick black pall, shooting forth columns of flame. Volleys of heavy shot were poured into the American foretopmast, until it reeled and swung backwards under the terrible blows. The young midshipman who commanded it (David Porter), called again and again to his superior for leave to lower the sail and relieve the pressure; but his voice was lost in the uproar of battle. Feeling that the mast must fall, unless this were done, he assumed the responsibility, and thus saved the ship from a serious misfortune. Her broadsides now raked the enemy from stem to stern, crashing masts, sails, and rigging, and strewing the deck with dead and dying. The Constellation then glided from the shroud of smoke, sailed round to her opponent's rear, and was on the point of raking her again, when the latter struck her colours.

The Insurgente was one of the fastest sailers in the French navy, and was under the command of Captain Barreault. She carried forty French twelve-pounders, and four hundred and nine men. Her loss was twenty-nine killed, and forty-one wounded. The Constellation had thirty-eight guns (English calibre), three hundred and nine men, and had three of her crew wounded.

An incident subsequent to the battle deserves mention. The first lieutenant of the Constellation, Mr. Rodgers, with Midshipman Porter and eleven men, were placed on board the prize to superintend the removal of prisoners. While engaged in this duty, the wind arose almost to a hurricane, night set in, and one hundred and seventy-three of the crew still remained on board. So strong was the action of the waves, that the ships were often widely separated, and then driven with fearful violence almost to a collision. At length, notwithstanding every exertion, the prize was driven completely out of sight.

At this opportunity, so unexpectedly offered, the prisoners began to exhibit unequivoca' signs of revolt. To the handful who watched them this movement would have been fatal; but the intrepid Rodgers showed himself equal to the emergency. Ordering all the prisoners to the hold, he secured the fire-arms, and placed a sentinel at each hatchway, with positive orders to shoot every man who should attempt to mount the deck. In this unenviable situation he remained three days, watching his prisoners with sleepless vigilance, and exhorting his men never to surrender their prize. At the end of that time he arrived safely in St. Kitt's, where the Constellation was already anchored.