Captain Stephen Decatur and the USS United States


Captain Stephen Decatur took the 44-gun USS United States across the Atlantic in the fall of 1812 and engaged the two-year-old, 38-gun HMS Macedonian 500 miles south of the Azores on October 25. After 90 minutes, the Macedonian had been dismasted and a third of her crew were killed or wounded, while the United States was lightly damaged and had only 12 casualties. Captain John Carden surrendered the Macedonian, and Decatur brought the jury-rigged vessel back to the US, where the crew was interned at New London and the ship was purchased for US Navy service. The two ships would return to New London in June 1813. This 1814 engraving by Benjamin Tanner is based on a painting by Thomas Birch. (© Mystic Seaport Collection, Mystic, CT, #1961.37)