Through the Napoleonic warfare, America remained neutral, and established itself as the world's leading commercial shipping nation. Due to better wages and conditions, British naval ships could ill afford to visit American harbors or face heavy rates of desertion. British impressment of sailors off American ships at sea was long a sore spot with their former colonies, but when H.M.S. Leonard boarded, fired upon and impressed four sailors off U.S.S Chesapeake 10 miles from Hampton Roads, war became inevitable.
The moment of first American naval glory of the War of 1812 goes to U.S.S. Constitution. Breaking the British dominance of naval warfare, the hearty ship commanded by Captain Isaac Hull, met H.M.S. Guerriere under the command of Captain James Dacres on August 17, 1812 after the British officer issued a direct challenge. Dacres was so confident that he promised his crew 4 months of pay for a 15 minute victory. In less than half an hour, with 15 dead and 63 injured, the British ship struck her colors. Some of her shot actually bounced off the sides of the American oak ship, birthing her now famous ‘Old Ironsides' nickname. Caught at the height of battle, Dinsdale does both memories proud. His fine effort invokes the rewards of wonder and awe that a marine artist seeks for his audience, even with the outcome apparent. The smoke and fire is a tribute to those who gave their all for their countries.
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