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Old Ironsides earns its name

History.com Staff

History.com

Old Ironsides earns its name

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/old-ironsides-earns-its-name

June 30, 2018

A+E Networks

During the War of 1812 , the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution defeats the British frigate Guerrière in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shot merely bounced off the Constitution ‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. By the war’s end, “Old Ironsides” destroyed or captured seven more British ships. The success of the USS Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous boost in morale for the young American republic.

The Constitution was one of six frigates that Congress requested be built in 1794 to help protect American merchant fleets from attacks by Barbary pirates and harassment by British and French forces. It was constructed in Boston, and the bolts fastening its timbers and copper sheathing were provided by the industrialist and patriot Paul Revere . Launched on October 21, 1797, the Constitution was 204 feet long, displaced 2,200 tons, and was rated as a 44-gun frigate (although it often carried as many as 50 guns).

In July 1798 it was put to sea with a crew of 450 and cruised the West Indies, protecting U.S. shipping from French privateers. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson ordered the American warship to the Mediterranean to fight Barbary pirates off the coast of Tripoli. The vessel performed commendably during the conflict, and in 1805 a peace treaty with Tripoli was signed on the Constitution ‘s deck.

When war broke out with Britain in June 1812, the Constitution was commanded by Isaac Hull, who served as lieutenant on the ship during the Tripolitan War. Scarcely a month later, on July 16, the Constitution encountered a squadron of five British ships off Egg Harbor, New Jersey . Finding itself surrounded, the Constitution was preparing to escape when suddenly the wind died. With both sides dead in the water and just out of gunnery range, a legendary slow-speed chase ensued. For 36 hours, the Constitution ‘s crew kept their ship just ahead of the British by towing the frigate with rowboats and by tossing the ship’s anchor ahead of the ship and then reeling it in. At dawn on July 18, a breeze sprang, and the Constitution was far enough ahead of its pursuers to escape by sail.

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Definition of ironside

: a man of great strength or bravery

13th century

in the meaning defined above

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Ironside

biographical name Iron·side \ ˈī(-ə)rn-ˌsīd \
William Edmund 1880–1959 1st Baron British field marshal

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Merriam-Webster unabridged

lambaste

to attack verbally

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