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HMS Macedonian

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Laid down:1809
Launched:2 June 1810
Commissioned:July(?) 1810
Fate:captured by United States
General Characteristics
Displacement:1,325 tons
Length:161.5 ft ( m)
Beam:40 ft ( m)
Depth of hold:18.3 ft ( m)
Complement:306 officers and men

The HMS Macedonian, a 38-gun sailing frigate, was built at Woolwich, England, in 1809, launched 2 June 1810, and commissioned soon thereafter, Lord William FitzRoy[?] in command. Among the original crew was the 13-year-old Samuel Leech[?], who later wrote a memoir of his experiences.

Macedonian first delivered a company of soldiers to Lisbon, Portugal, then remained in the area, guarding against the possibility of French naval attack. During this period, FitzRoy made personal profit by falsification of records of ships' stores, for which he was court-martialled in March 1811 and dismissed from the service (he was quietly reinstated in August, presumably due to his aristocratic rank).

FitzRoy's replacement, William Waldegrave[?], was an interim appointment whose command lasted for only a few weeks before he was himself replaced by John Carden[?]. One of Carden's first actions was to hire a band, a move popular with the crew, but he did not get along with the first lieutenant David Hope[?].

In January 1812, Macedonian was ordered to secretly deliver some bills of exchange to Norfolk, Virginia, and to bring back an equivalent quantity of gold and silver specie, as part of a scheme to keep the Bank of England solvent. During the visit, Carden socialized with the notables of Norfolks, including Commodore Stephen Decatur (whom he was soon to meet under much less friendly circumstances), but bungled the mission by inadvertantly revealing what was planned, and had to return to Lisbon emptyhanded.

In September, Macedonian was ordered to accompany an East Indiaman[?] as far as Madeira, then to cruise in search of prizes as long as his supplies permitted. The frigate left Madeira on 22 October, but only a few days later, on the morning of 25 October, encountered the USS United States, commanded by none other than his erstwhile dinner host Decatur. The USA had just declared the War of 1812 on Great Britain, and both captains were eager to achieve personal glory in a fight.

Unfortunately for Macedonian, the United States was one of the new 44-gun frigates, and her broadside was 864 pounds of metal, vs Macedonian's 528 pounds. Within a few minutes of closing, United States brought all three of Macedonian's masts, and riddled the hull, but then pulled away temporarily, leaving Carden and Hope time to contemplate their lack of options. Finally, avoid his ship being sunk and costing the lives of all his crew, Carden became the first British frigate captain in history to surrender to an American.

Decatur was careful to preserve Macedonian, sending over a detail to help repair it, and he brought the captured ship into Newport, Rhode Island, on 4 December 1812, immediately causing a national sensation. The USS Constitution had previously beaten HMS Guerriere[?], but it was too badly damaged to save; while Decatur's capture of a seaworthy warship was a sizeable and welcome addition to the then-tiny US Navy.

The US took Macedonian into the Navy immediately, retaining the name; see USS Macedonian for the further history of this ship.

Since that time, no other Royal Navy ship has been named Macedonian.


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