Period pirate action against an American ship is an extremely rare subject. Combined with the Caribbean account within this work and it is one of the outstanding snippets of history we have come across in recent years. With present muzzle flashes and views of the battles at sea and shore, it is clear that Pellegrin either was present or heard the story directly from a participant. What is less clear is what purpose the American, a 212-ton brig which was built in Steubens, Maine in 1833, had in these waters.
The Dominican Republic, as the Trinitarians, Had declared their independence in February from Haitian rule, which had cast off Spanish rule 17 years earlier. Taking the Haitian Flag and adding the white cross, they won the Battle of Azua on March 19, 1844. It is most likely that the American ship ended up in the wrong place at this time a month later, and as a interloper in the area of hostilities, was set upon as a prize. The nine men and their record of valor and victory in repelling the Dominicans is recorded in the inscription personally by the artist.
It is of interest to note that American interest in the region continued well through the century and beyond, with the possibility of annexation of the entire Isle of Hispaniola in the 1870s. This Greater Antilles Island is west of Puerto Rico, beyond Mona Passage, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Today the Dominican Republic is the second largest nation in the Caribbean, sharing the island with the Republic of Haiti.
INSCRIBED LOWER: “Brig PANDORA James Paxton Commander, Mounted with 5 Guns and 9 Men, was attacked in the Bay of Azua by three Piratical Schnrs of 5 Guns each with 50 men. The three Schnrs hauled off with the loss of 45 men Killed and 30 Wounded the action lasted one hour and a half. (April 15th, 1844)
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