The Bugler

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Salute to the Navy and "Old Ironsides"

One cannot visit Boston without soaking in the history of our great nation. On a recent trip one Bugler reader had an interesting morning exploring the Copps Hill Burying Ground near the Old North Church. One could not help but feel one's heart swell with pride reading the burial placard for Edmund Hartt whose company, Hartt Shipyard, built the USS Constitution. It seems fitting that his gravesite looks out over the water at the famous frigate that his shipyard built so many years before.

There are many Navy events to celebrate this month. First is the 237th birthday of the U.S. Navy on October 13 and the second is the 215th anniversary of the launching of the 44-gun USS Constitution, "America's Ship of State." According to navy history, at the end of the American Revolution, the Continental Navy was disbanded and "the new nation was left without a credible seapower to defend its interests abroad." On March 27, 1794 President George Washington signed the Naval Armament Act calling "for the construction of six frigates." This new beginning of the United States Navy was celebrated with the launching of the first frigate, USS United States, in May 1797, followed by USS Constellation on September 7, 1797. The USS Constitution was scheduled for two weeks later at the next high tides in Boston. Be sure and read "The Launch" by Commander Tyrone G. Martin, U.S. Navy (Retired) to discover all the difficulties USS Constitution caused when the final blocks were moved and the massive ship failed to move. It took until the high tides on October 21st for the ship to finally slip into the water. These inauspicious beginnings were soon forgotten.

USS Constitution had been developed to protect the United States maritime interests and by the outset of the War of 1812, the frigate had "won all her engagements in two wars: the Quasi-War with France and the Barbary Wars." By the beginning of the war, the U.S. Navy had "22 commissioned warships compared to more than 80 British vessels off America's eastern seaboard." Although USS Constitution defeated four English warships and upon "returning to Boston from each victory at sea, the ship and her sailors were honored with parades and public adoration," USS Constitution's true accomplishment "was to uplift American morale spectacularly and, in the process, end forever the myth that the Royal Navy was invincible." History of USS Constitution

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