CAPTAIN JAMES LAWRENCE SHOUTED "DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP" 200 YEARS AGO TODAY
Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) United States Navy Captain James Lawrence*, commander of the USS Chesapeake, was mortally wounded 200 years ago today, June 1, 1813, during a battle with the British HMS Shannon commanded by Captain Philip Broke**.
Painting by F. Muller
Navy Art Collection
The naval battle, part of the WAR OF 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, began just after Chesapeake left Boston harbor and while Shannon was on blockade duty off the Massachusetts coast.
The two battleships came face to face at 5:30 p.m. 20 nautical miles east of the Boston Lighthouse between Cape Ann and Cape Cod and their battle began a half hour later.
Captain Broke would survive a head wound, but Captain Lawrence was mortally wounded by small arms fire.
As he was being cared for by his officers, Captain Lawrence shouted out: "Don't give up the ship!"
Although Captain Lawrence died from his wounds a few days later, his friend and fellow officer, OLIVER HAZARD PERRY, ordered a blue battle flag made with the words "DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP" sewn on.
The Battle of Chesapeake vs. Shannon ended after less than 15 minutes.
Casualties for the US Navy included 60 dead while the Royal Navy had 23 dead and 56 wounded.
*Captain James Lawrence (1781-1813) was born in Burlington, New Jersey and studied law before enrolling in the US Navy in 1798. He served in the Quasi-War with France and became a Lieutenant in 1802, then Captain in March 1813.
Lawrence was buried in Nova Scotia where 6 British naval officers served as pall bearers. His remains were reinterred in Trinity Church Cemetery in NY.
Lawrence County, TENNESSEE was named in honor of Captain Lawrence.
Captain James Lawrence
by J. Herring
Naval Academy Museum Collection
National Archives Image
**Captain Philip Broke (1776-1841) was born near Ipswich, England and began service in the Royal Navy in 1792. He was promoted to captain in 1801 and rear admiral in 1830.
Staffordshire Museum Image
The Brilliant Achievement
by W. Elmes
Grave of Captain James Lawrence
Trinity Church Cemetery
New York City
Photo by Nathan Schneider (2008)