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Aug 19, 2018 27 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
GUYS. Guess what happens in 45 minutes? It's August 19. Know what that means? It's the anniversary of the USS Constitution versus the HMS Guerriere. KNOW what that means? IT'S TIME TO DRINK DRINKS AND TALK ABOUT MY FAVORITE WARSHIP, SHE IS SO HOT YOU GUYS
Ok, so, look. The Constitution. Way back when in like the dawn of time or whatever, I dunno, everyone from then is dead, well, GW gets this law to allow for six friggin frigates built. Which is CLUTCH bc T Jeff is gonna be all "gunboats, fuckers" which DOESNT WORK
Anyhoo, six frigates. Built up and down the northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Six of em. If you're counting. This is a big deal because the US Navy at this time consists of 6 dudes in a coracle with a rusted musket. Ok, not that bad but damn, not far off you guys
Ok so, Boston. 1797. This gorgeous and sleek 44 gun DIMEPIECE of a frigate slides off into the water and sits all pretty like. They name her the USS Constitution and she's just a damn peach. 24 pounder guns with 32 pounder carronades on deck to just SLAY someone's else's deck
Off she goes and she does all this stuff in that Quasi war we had with France right after we were like "oh hey, thanks for Independence but no thanks" which was really dumb but then she did well in the Barbary Pirate Wars aka Beat Down in the Med
Anyhoo, by 1812, she's doing pretty well, and she's got Isaac "I was born with a tiller in hand" Hull, from Connecticut - DON'T HOLD THAT AGAINST HIM, IT DIDNT SUCK BACK THEN. Hull was a good dude. Trained hard, played hard, didn't do flogging bc LAME. Looked out for his sailors
Know what else happens in 1812? Jimmy Madison gets us into one of the dumbest wars on record - WHICH IS QUITE A STANDARD - and suddenly the tiny US Navy is up against the biggest damn seapowrr in the world - who, fortunately, was spending most of its time fighting smol Corsican
So anyways, shit goes down, war, yada yada yada and Hull and the Constitution are doing their shit - aka under sail, kicking ass, taking names - but also totally outmatched by the big bad wolf - I mean, the Halifax Squadron of the British Royal Navy
K, so. August 1, 1812. Hull leaves Boston in the fog, because it's always foggy in Boston in the am, & he's looking for the British, because he's Isaac goddam Hull. Look, this dude was so BA that he didn't fight duels, which means EVERYONE ELSE WAS SCARED OF HIS PUDGY SELF
Hull, for background, had run out in his skivvies to save the ship he was second in command on from running into some rocks when the captain was unable to do his damn job. Literally in his underwear. Which was a big deal back in the day. Anyways. Dudes got the right stuff
So Hull sets off towards Canada all hell bent for shooting some shit and...doesn't see shit for two weeks. Nada. Finally runs into a US privateer who's like "yo theres this British ship around who's messing us up" so Hull goes off looking for this Brit ship
Now. This Brit ship. The 44 gun HMS Guerriere. Commanded by James Dacres. Jr. Daddy was also Royal Navy, so bit of a family thing. The dude had outrun the Guerriere in a previous engagement then someone else captured it & he ended up commanding it. Kinda weird. But whatevs
Around like the afternoon or some shit of August 19 the two ships sight each other. My gal the Constitution is up to 55 guns now because SHE STACKED and the two ships close on each other. The Brits raises 3 ensigns as an invite to duel. Hull raises 4. Cause MERICA
So Dacres has a small crew. Cause NAPOLEONIC WARS, MOFOS. But they're pretty well trained. They begin shooting pretty early on. Hull has a larger crew, one that he still doesn't have in the fighting shape he wants but fuckit, it's go time. He holds his fire.
The ships slowly close. It's now 6 PM. Yeah, that long. Cause age of sail. Consty is like a pistol length from Gerry. Remember, that's 19th century pistol shot. So really fuckin close. 6:05. Hull gives the order. Every gun on starboard side, double shotted, goes off.

The Guerriere reels as if punched. Literally. Her mizzenmast is shot away. Hull gets so pumped that he rips his breeches, because that's how he rolls. Consty puts two full broadsides of grape into Guerriere which is basically like shooting a shotgun into a birdhouse
Constitution bears up, trying to keep Guerriere from raking her, and gets all tangled up in Guerry's shot out masts. Just a mess, ships all wound together, boarding parties rushing on deck and starting to musket at each other, which is shooting, but innacurately
LT Will Bush, commander of the Consty's Marines rushes out and jumps up yelling "shall I board her?" and obviously gets shot in the head because holy shit dude it's a fucking carnage fest up here with both ships literally shooting every gun available into each other
Marines in the fighting tops of the Consty wound Dacres, so that sucks for him, and sweep the decks of the Guerriere with musketry so the British ship drifts away. Hull pulls the Consty free and lays off to refit. Only one sail is left on the Guerriere aka she done
So Hull sends over a boat to be like "u up?" and Dacres is like "uh, well, we could still fight if we had sails but we don't so we'll give up so you can treat your wounded" & Consty is like "we got 7, waddup." So Hull is like I'm done & he and his crew get brought over to C town
Dammot, Dacres is the one who is done. Hull is just baller. He and Dacres stand on Constitution's deck and watch the Guerriere blow up because she's too damaged to go anywhere. Constitution had shot away her masts & planking below the waterline, aka PERFECT SHOOTING
Consty heads back to Boston and the Chowdaheads go nuts, man. Just nuts. Big ass party. And the Brits start telling stories, of how when they started shooting their balls (giggity) bounced off the sides of Consty. And erryone starts calling her "old Ironsides." But TWIST
No iron, guys. Just really fucking good building. Made partially put of live oak, from off the coast of Georgia, the Constitution was built with an extra thick hull. So the Brits weak ass shots just bounded right off. Very Woody. Very. But hey, nicknames stick.
Ok, so, yeah, now it seems like what's the big deal? IT WAS A HUGE DEAL. The US Navy was like a nobody and in 25 minutes had laid a smackdown on the greatest Navy in the world. Yeah, we didn't do so well in the rest of the war but the USS Constitution was our bright light
And she still is. You can hang out with her in Charlestown, MA, the oldest active commissioned warship still afloat. Also, the only ship in the USN who has won a ship to ship battle. Which should give you an idea of the world we live in.
Clearly I'm sobering up which is just tragic. BUT. If you liked this #drunjhistory, then check out the folks at @USNavyHistory, who probably aren't drunk but who are smarter than i. And go see USS Constitution. She's delightful.
Personal story: I landed a spot on her turnaround cruise one month before I deployed to Afghanistan. I stood on her deck as she went out into the harbor & saluted & was saluted by the guns of the 101 FA - one of the oldest units in the Army. Heritage meeting heritage.

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Prepare yourselves
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