Letter from John Marshall to William Phillips, April 10, 1813
This 10-page letter from Royal Navy Captain John Marshall to his friend William Phillips, Esq. in London presents a first-hand account of the battle between USS Constitution and HMS Java from the British perspective.
Constitution, commanded by Commodore William Bainbridge, defeated Java, commanded by Captain Henry Lambert, on December 29, 1812. Marshall, a Royal Navy commander who was travelling aboard Java as a passenger to India, was present for the battle and later recounted the events to his friend Phillips. In the letter, Marshall writes a detailed description of the battle and aftermath, including his correction to Bainbridge’s statement concerning the length of the battle and the number of wounded and killed. Marshall also criticizes the American crew’s plundering, noting he was “about 100 Guineas minus in consequence,” though he commends Bainbridge’s honorable conduct following the battle. Marshall was brought aboard Constitution as a prisoner of war and landed at Brazil with Java’s officers and crew.