Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle-shout,
And burst the cannon's roar:
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more!
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood
And waves were white below,
No more shall the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee:
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!
O better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave!
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave:
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!
Oliver Wendell Holmes
(Written with reference to the proposed breaking up
of the famous U.S. Frigate Constitution)
Engagement between the U.S. Frigate “Constitution” and H.M.S. “Guerriere,”
Carlton Theodore Chapman
Built in the North Boston shipyard of Edmund Hartt,
and named by President George Washington, the
USS Constitution, a.k.a. "Old Ironsides" was the
third of six original frigates authorized for
construction by the US Naval Act of 1794.
Her first call of duty was to protect American
cargo ships during a brief altercation with France, and
later, to combat the scourge of the high seas,
better known as the Barbary Coast corsairs,
pirates who were attacking American ships
off the coast of northern Africa.
The Constitution is best known for the War of 1812
when she captured numerous British merchant ships
and defeated several British war ships, most notably
the HMS Guerriere, which earned her the nickname,
During the American Civil War,
the Constitution served as a training ship at the
US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
She was also instrumental in carrying exhibitions of
American art and industry to the Paris Exposition of 1878.
The Constitution was retired from active service in 1881,
and became a museum ship in 1907.
In 1997, the Constitution once again took to the sea,
sailing under her own power to celebrate her 200th birthday.
In 2012, some fifteen years since that sail, the
Constitution took to the water again to
commemorate her victory over the HMS Guerriere.
According to All Hands, Magazine of the US Navy website,
the Constitution, which was dry docked for work at the Charleston Navy Yard
in May 2015 will be re-floated and returned to her regular pier
at the Navy Yard in the fall of 2017.
More information about the US Constitution is available at: