Chesapeake

Chesapeake, U.S. frigate, famous for her role in the Chesapeake affair (June 22, 1807) and for her battle with the H.M.S. Shannon (June 1, 1813). The Chesapeake left Norfolk, Va., for the Mediterranean under the command of James Barron in June, 1807. Just outside U.S. territorial waters the H.M.S. Leopard stopped her and demanded the right to search her for British deserters. Barron refused to allow this, and shortly afterward the Leopard opened fire. Unprepared for action, Barron was forced to submit and allow the impressment of four of his crew (two of whom were American-born). The incident caused intense indignation, and war seemed imminent. In the War of 1812, the refitted Chesapeake, commanded by James Lawrence, engaged (June 1, 1813) the H.M.S. Shannon outside Boston harbor. Lawrence was mortally wounded, and his last command was reportedly the famous "Don't give up the ship!" The Chesapeake was, however, captured.

See studies by K. Poolman (1961), P. Padfield (1968), and H. F. Pullen (1970).

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