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USS ENTERPRISE

1799 Schooner

The schooner USS Enterprise was a schooner built by the famous shipbuilder Henry Spencer at Baltimore, Maryland in 1799.

On 17 December 1799, schooner Enterprise departed for the Caribbean to protect United States merchantmen from French privateers during the Quasi-War with France. Within only one year, she captured eight privateers and liberated 11 American vessels from captivity. This achievements assured her inclusion in a fleet of 14 ships retained in the US Navy after the Quasi-War.  

Enterprise's first duel came on 1 August 1801.  Commanded by captain Sterret, the Enterprise carrying12 six-pounders and 90 men met the Tripoli of 14 six-pounders and manned by 80 men.

At this time the Enterprise bore British colors.  Captain Sterret asked the commander of the Tripoli on the purpose of his cruise.  He replied that he was cruising after the Americans, and continued that he had not come alongside of any.  Captain Sterret replied by hoisting the American flag and immediately discharged a volley of musketry which was returned by a partial broadside from the Tripoli.   The battle thus started 9 am and continued for three hours. 

Three times, during the action, the Tripoli attempted to board the Enterprise, and was as often repulsed with great slaughter.  Three times, also, the Tripoli struck her colors, and treacherously renewed the action.  For the third time, captain Sterret gave orders to sink the Tripoli.  And furious combat ensued until the enemy cried for mercy.  Captain Sterret, then ordered the Tripoli's captain either to come himself, or to send some of his officers on board the Enterprise.  The enemy said that the boat of the Tripoli was badly damaged during battle.  After many supplications & protestations  from the Tripoli, the Enterprise's boat was sent. 

Under the superior management of Captain Sterrett, not a single individual of the crew of the schooner Enterprise was in the least degree injured.  On the perilous Tripoli, having 18 shot holes on the hull, found a most deplorable condition of the crew: 20 were killed and 30 wounded.  After helping the wounded, Captain Sterrett had the Tripoli dismantled.  Her masts were cut down, and guns thrown to sea.   In that condition the USS Enterprise sent the battered pirate into port. 

As a side note, on the arrival at Tripoli, the wounded captain was ordered by the authority to be mounted on a Jack Ass and paraded thru the streets as an object of public scorn.  After which he received 500 whips on his foot soles.  After this event,  Tripolitan sailors for the government all deserted.  Not a man could be procured to navigate the ships. 

On 23 December 1803, schooner Enterprise joined with frigate USS Constitution to capture the Tripolitan ketch Mastico.  The captured vessel was then refitted and renamed Intrepid.  Command was then turned over to Enterprise's commander Lieutenant Decatur.  Because of Intrepid regional appearance the ketch was well suited for making its way into Tripoli's harbor without raising suspicion, it was used in a daring expedition to board, capture and burn the frigate Philadelphia which was American and captured earlier by the Tripolitans.  Decatur and volunteers from the Enterprise carried out their mission almost perfectly, destroying the frigate and depriving Tripoli of a powerful warship. 

Then war was declared on Britain.  On September 5th, 1813, the USS Enterprise sighted HMS Boxer (had captured seven American schooners) of 14 guns with 66 men off Pemaquid Point, Maine.  Unable to escape the Enterprise's fast speed,  British Captain Samuel Blythe (an officer of distinguished merit of the Royal Navy) prepared for a fight to the finish, nailing a flag to the foremast.  On the Enterprise, Lieutenant William Burrows demonstrated similar resolve.  He moved one of his two long 9-pounders from the bow to a stern port, declaring: "We are going to fight both ends and both sides of this ship as long as the ends and the sides hold together." 

At about 3 pm, the British warship fired.  The American responded, and her very first broadside killed the British skipper.   On the USS Enterprise, Captain Burrows received a mortal wound not too long after.   Coastal spectators from Pemaquid Point down to Portland could watch as the two ships blasted each other at close range.  For about 40 minutes, the two ships stood side by side and fired broadside after broadside, hurling iron balls and grape shot into each other.

The combat was shrouded in heavy smoke.  Spectators did not know who won the fight until both vessels started to sail south toward Portland.   The Boxer had 3 killed, 16 wounded, while the Enterprise had 4 killed and 15 wounded.  The dying Lieutenant Burrows declined to accept Captain Blyth's sword, directing it to be sent to the family of the British captain.  "I am satisfied, I die contented," Lieutenant Burrows exclaimed. 

Newspapers in the United States rejoiced in "another brilliant naval victory," one of the few American successes during the second summer of the War of 1812.   The two commanders received impressive state funeral and rested side by side in Portland's Eastern Cemetery.

 

 
 
 
 


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This USS Enterprise Sloop-of-war model features:

  • Scratch-built

  • Double plank-on-frame

  • All parts are wooden or metal

  • Blackened metal cannons and wooden carriages

31" long x 29" tall x 8" wide     $1,200     S & H is $150

Add 110v light feature:  $200   

For display case:  http://www.modelshipmaster.com/products/accessory/displaycase.htm


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