Brilliant Naval Victory
Printed engravings illustrating USS Constitution‘s naval victories were popular during and after the War of 1812. This engraving, created by artist Samuel Seymour and published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by J. Pierie & F. Kearney, celebrates Constitution‘s victory over HMS Guerriere in August, 1812.
While most such commemoratives depict the dramatic height of a battle, this one represents a later stage of cleanup after the battle’s conclusion. However, it conflates two different events in the same image. In this engraving, four boats with Guerriere crew turned prisoners-of-war, shown out of scale with the ship, are being rowed to Constitution from Guerriere. At the same time, Guerriere is depicted mid-explosion.
Guerriere‘s crew suffered heavy losses and injuries in the battle, and the Americans brought the injured seamen aboard Constitution. But it was only after this task was completed that fires were set on Guerriere to sink the dismasted ship. Hull had determined that Guerriere was too damaged after the battle to be taken to America as a prize.
The subtitle reads: “With the U. States Frigate Constitution of 44 Guns, Cap.n Hull, & the English Frigate Guerriere of 38 Guns, Cap.n Dacres, of which action Cap.n Hull lost 7 men killed, & 7 wounded, & his B. M. Ship was sunk, besides her loss of 15 men killed, 62 wounded, & 24 missing, August 20, 1812. After closing, the action was 30 minu.s.”