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Sea Battle: President vs. Belvidera
by R. Taylor

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  On June 23rd 1812 at 6:00 a.m. the British frigate "Belvidera" moves close to check out what she believes to be an American squadron. The crew had been informed by a merchant ship that war may have been declared. One half hour later the British crew sees three large American frigates and tries to steer the "Belvidera" away.

   Commodore Rodgers is commanding the U.S. squadron. The "President" and the "Congress" both make sail and go after the "Belvidera". The "President" is much faster and closes with the British frigate first, while the "Congress" follows. The British commander, Captain Byron orders the "Belvidera" ready for battle. Commodore Rodgers fires the bow gun of the "President" himself. The "President" fires again from their main-deck guns. Three shot have all found their mark killing or wounding nine men. This battle would have most likely ended with the next few shots fired except that the "Presidents" main-deck gun blew up when it fired for the second time, killing or wounding sixteen men. Commodore Rodgers himself was injured with a broken leg. The "Belvidera" opened fire with her stern guns killing or wounding six men. The "President" responded with a port broadside that did minor damage to the British frigate's rigging. The "Belvidera" continued to fire. The "President" moved close and fired her bow-chasers damaging the main top mast and cross-jack yard of the British ship.

   The "President" fell back a short distance and fired another broadside, this did little damage. Again the Americans closed and fired the bow-chasers, these shots did much more damage than the broadsides.

    The crew of the British frigate worked hard and repaired the damage quickly. But the damage to the sails gave the "Congress" the time it needed to catch up. The "Congress" opened fire, these shots splashed harmlessly into the ocean. The "Belvidera" changed coarse and escaped. Three days later reaching Halifax Harbour.

It must be pointed out that had the American gun not burst on the "President" this battle surely would have been over quickly. It also should be pointed out that the repairs made by the British crew while under fire enabled them to make their escape.


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