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(left) Surveying his dismasted and heavily damaged ship, Royal Navy Captain john Carden had little choice but to surrender his ship to Decatur. D ecatur's First Lieutenant, William Henry Allen, managed to jury-rig the wounded British ship and successfully sail the prize 2,200 miles back to Newport, RI.

co nrinue rheir pay-he and his men were given rheir parole and released off New York. Caprain Carden had included rhese examples in his report to his superiors on rhe loss of Macedonian over rwo years previously. Decarur held several mo re commands afrer rhe War of 18 12, including a rerurn rrip to rhe Medirerranean in command of a squadron senr to quier a disrurbance from rhe Dey of Algiers . His flagship for rhar cruise was none orher rhan USS Macedonian! H e subsequently became one of rhe Navy Commissioners, along wirh John Rodgers and David Porrer, and used his experience and zeal to build up rhe Republic's fledging Navy. As memioned earlier, James Barron, rerurning to America following rhe war, wro re a succession of increasingly challenging lerrers to D ecarur, referencing commems of a libelous narure ostensibly urrered by D ecarur. Mosr of all, Barron conrinued to smart ar D ecarur's "nay" vore on his rerurn to dury following rhe five year suspension. Ulrimarely, in March of 1820, D ecarur had lirrle choice bur to accede to Barron's demand for a meering on rhe field of honor. O n 22 March, rhey mer in Bladensburg, Maryland, along wirh rheir seconds, Commodore W illiam Bainbridge for Decarur and Caprain Jesse Ellior sranding second for Barron. A second's responsibiliry, among orhers, involves any and all arremprs ro reconcile rhe combarams before rhe duel; Bainbridge reporredly heard

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rhe exchange berween Barron and D ecarur wherein Barron urrered rhe words, "I hope when we meer in rhe nexr world, we mighr be berrer friends ." Decarur, wirhin earshor of Bainbridge, responded, "I have never been yo ur enemy, sir."

Borh of the principals we re wo unded, Decarur fatally. H e died rhe nexr day and was buried wirh enormous fanfare in Washington, DC. All members of Congress, rhe Supreme Courr Jusrices, rhe President, fore ign digniraries, and hundreds of rhe men who had served with him arrended rhe hero's funeral; ir was rruly a melancholy day for borh rhe Navy and rhe counrry. Srephen Decarur Jr. was rruly a hero of rhe American Navy during the Age of Fighting Sail. A comemporary called him "a man of an age, an officer of uncommon characrer and rare promise, one nor equaled in a million." His narural leadership abilities, his brilliance ar naval racrics, his well-developed sense of honor, and his even-handed rreatment of all whom he encountered-enlisred , officer, friend, or foe-combined to make him one of rhe oursranding characrers in the developmem of our Navy and our coumry. !. 1 Coincidentally, Stephen D ecarur Sr. was captain of a vessel on whi ch a young James Porten served-see pages 16-17 of this issue to learn about this hero of a different so rt.

James Barron

Following rhe duel, Barron said repearedly rhar he had spoken the words in reconciliation, bur rhar borh Bainbridge and Ellior ignored his atrempt and ordered the combarants to rake rheir posirions.

William H White is a maritime historian specializing in American naval events during the Age ofFighting Sail. H e has written four novels of naval fiction and is a trustee ofNMH S, USS Constitution Museum, and a consultant to the 1812 reproduction privateer Lynx. Further information on the author and his books may be found at: www.seafiction.net.

Further Reading: with rhis final insrallment in rhe series, "Heroes of rhe Sailing Navy," complere, should yo u wish to learn more abour rhe Chesapeake/Leopard inciden r and Srephen Decarur's brilliant victory over H MS Macedo nian, yo u can find fac rual and accurare accounrs of each in Mr. Whire's forthcoming book, In Pursuit of Glory, due our in Seprember. Furrher derails on Decarur's acrions off rhe Barbary Coasr can be fo und in W hire's The Greater the Ho nor, available rhrough www.amazo n. com or rhrough NMHS-Call 1-8 00-221-NMHS. SEA HISTORY l l 6, AUTUMN 2006

Sea History 116 - Autumn 2006  

10 Heroes of the Sailing Navy: Stephen Decatur Jr., by William H. White • 16 "Black Hands, Blue Seas:" Sailmaker James Forten by Deirdre O'...

Sea History 116 - Autumn 2006  

10 Heroes of the Sailing Navy: Stephen Decatur Jr., by William H. White • 16 "Black Hands, Blue Seas:" Sailmaker James Forten by Deirdre O'...

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