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Image for Constitution and Java

Constitution and Java

Currier & Ives created many images of battles at sea. The clash between USS Constitution and HMS Java was the third and most significant American victory of the War of 1812. In two previous clashes, between the Constitution and the Guerrière in August and the United States and the Macedonian in October, the British had been badly defeated. The Java was a well-manned and well-gunned ship but carried 400 crew members compared to the 475 on the Constitution. In December 1812 the vessel was on its way to India, carrying the new governor of Bombay, his staff, and 100 extra sailors who were being sent to the East Indies as reinforcements.

The conflict took place off the coast of Brazil. It began with a long-range artillery duel in which the Java was heavily damaged. As the two ships approached each other the Java was then overwhelmed at close range. Ship captain, Henry Lambert, was killed in the gunfire and the Java suffered more than 100 casualties before surrendering. The battle was the last of the single-frigate duels of the War of 1812.

Date: 1845

Artists: Nathaniel Currier
Medium: Hand-colored lithograph
Measurements: 13 3/4 x 9 inches
Access Number: 2004-D03-429
Gift of Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert supplemented with Museum Acquistions Funds

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