United States was the first of six frigates to be
launched and commissioned into the United States
Navy. In fact,
she was commissioned even before she was launched by the
order of George Washington.
frigate USS United States was different from her
sisters President and Constitution. One difference
was that she had a poop deck and roundhouse on the
United States also had “diagonals” within her
design. These were massive timbers of six pairs that
extended from the ends of the ship, down to the keel
in diagonal lines. These timbers prevent the ship
USS United States was more heavily armed than the
USS Constitution. Her armament consisted of 32
24-pounders plus 2 bow-chasers. She carried 24
42-pounder carronades when going into the War of
Even though the USS United States carried heavier
guns, she was considerably faster than
Constitution. She could reach an
impressive speed was 13 ½ knots. In his journal during the Quasi
War With France, LT John Mullowney mentioned many
times about pulling away from the Constitution.
USS United States served America valiantly in the
two wars with the French and England.
time the civil war broke out, when
the Confederate troops were entering the town, the
Union fire crews did not burn the USS United States,
and the Confederates commissioned
the frigate CSS United States.
CSS United States served the Confederates well and
in May 1862, was sunk to form an obstruction to
Union vessels coming into the navy yard. The
timbers of the ship was so strong that it took one
full box of axes to scuttle her.
HMS Macedon vs. USS
The United States was commanded by Stephen
Decatur. Decatur had made a name for himself when he
boarded the captured Philadelphia and burned
her. In Admiral Nelson's view, it was "the
most daring act of the age."
On the morning of Oct. 25th 1812, at 8:30 a.m.,
when the two ships 1 mile apart, the Macedonian
fired 3 ranging shots which fell short. The
United States answered with a broadside from her
24-pounders that had some effect. Then the
American ship resumed her original course increasing
the distance between the two ships. At this distance
the advantage would be in the American's favor
because they were using the heavier 24-pounders. From this position the Macedonian was
slowly shot to pieces. The British frigate lost her
mizzen top mast, main yard and top sail. Despite
this damage the British crew fought on for thirty
minutes more. Eventually, both the top masts
and the whole of the mizzen mast came crashing down.
United States sailed past the bow of the Macedonian
and did not fire a shot, instead pulled away and
made some repairs. After approximately one
hour the American ship returned and the British ship
struck her colors. The British losses were 36
dead and 68 wounded. The American losses were 7 dead
and 5 wounded.
Decatur decided that bringing the Macedonian into
port would be a boost to the American war effort. They made the necessary repairs and brought the
captured British frigate into port where many
Americans came to see her and cheered.