USS Constitution prepares to do battle


This deck scene depicts gun crews cheering with enthusiasm and standing ready for action as the USS Constitution prepares to do battle with HMS Guerriere. US Navy sailors were both seamen, who stood watch and handled sails, and members of small fighting teams who operated the cannons and prepared to board an enemy ship and fight hand-to-hand with cutlass and pistol. Published in Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion in 1851, this wood engraving by John Andrew mirrors enduring popular perceptions of the courage and fighting spirit of American sailors. (© Mystic Seaport Collection, Mystic, CT, #1939.7)