Old Ironsides


USS Constitution, America’s oldest warship and National Historic Landmark in Boston is fondly referred to as ‘Old Ironsides.” She gained this moniker during a battle between herself and the British frigate Guerriere. Receive the Best information about old ironside fakes.

Oliver Wendell Holmes composed the poem about her during an unproductive moment at law school, and its success saved her from retirement.

The War of 1812

As a young democracy, the United States contested one of the greatest naval powers in history – Britain – in an event that would shape its future significantly. Known today as The War of 1812, this battle pitted the American government against the British monarchy and inspired one of its most beloved patriotic songs while further validating self-determination claims for freedom.

American naval engagement during the war was often intense and bloody, yet Americans gained much by sea. The frigate USS Constitution gained particular notoriety for her success in numerous single-ship duels against Royal Navy vessels; one such duel with HMS Guerriere saw shots fired by an outgunned British vessel appear to rebound off her 22-inch thick hull and earn her the nickname Old Ironsides – she went on to capture seven other Royal Navy vessels as well as twice breaking British blockades against Boston.

On land, however, American forces suffered an overwhelming defeat. Tecumseh’s death put paid to any notion of Indian sovereignty in North America while Creek Nation forces’ defeat effectively ended any chance at stopping American expansionism into Indigenous lands. Hostilities continued even after an armistice agreement had been signed.

Tensions were high amid the political upheaval at this time. Many Americans felt that the United States wasn’t truly a sovereign nation. Dissidents even suggested secession – suggesting American colonies break away and form their independent states with individual governments.

The War of 1812 provided dissidents an ideal platform from which they could express their fury and frustrations. Following its conclusion, the Hartford Convention held meetings to consider secession but never officially called for it; so this issue languished in New England for decades before finally being addressed formally by government leaders.

War ended with a treaty that restored peace to the nations and ensured U.S. independence and restoration of sovereignty while creating an immense sense of national pride among American people – this contributed to one of their favorite patriotic songs, “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

The Battle of Guerriere

Though not decisive in its outcome, the battle was nevertheless an impressive demonstration of American naval might and a significant boost to national morale. When she arrived back in Boston ten days later, crowds filled rooftops and wharves to celebrate Old Ironsides’s return and cheered her back into service.

On August 19th, 1812, the British frigate Guerriere noticed the USS Constitution at long range and swiftly closed. They engaged each other for fifteen minutes exchanging broadsides before American fire caused the British ship to lose both her mizzenmast and foremast – both dropping inboard and taking down with them their respective masts.

Captain Hull instructed the Constitution to luff up to cross Guerriere’s wind and brace her yards to remain within striking range of their enemy and retain her raking advantage.

As Guerriere approached within range, the American ship unleashed two full broadsides of murderous fire on her hull and decks. Grapeshot–clusters of balls that burst when fired–destroyed personnel on the deck while round shot hammered into Guerriere’s battered main masts and foremasts.

American ships’ powerful guns wreaked havoc upon British vessels, yet their crew worked valiantly to maintain control of their vessel. Finally, their efforts paid off when the foremast collapsed, toppling forward-and-middle masts before finally snapping like matchsticks into place and becoming completely subdued by American firepower.

American victory was complete: amid the wreckage, American sailors managed to rescue prisoners and salvage valuables – such as a Bible given by Captain Guerriere’s mother – such as an invaluable Bible. By the time Guerriere finally sank, she had become a burning hulk with four feet of water in its hold – both captain and many crewmembers dead; seven Americans had died for each side versus 23 killed and 56 wounded aboard Guerriere alone (second Lieutenant Henry Ready was among them).

The poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes was one of the great writers of his day, known for writing numerous renowned poems and even some short novels. A well-recognized physician and political figure, Oliver also found time for poetry writing – including writing much of it here in Essex County where many beautiful stanzas can be found within this poem.

Holmes wrote his renowned Old Ironsides poem in 1830. Published widely across newspapers across America, it warned the public of impending danger to Old Ironsides while simultaneously alerting the Navy Department.

After the War of 1812, the ship returned to her usual duties but in 1830 she was found to be in poor condition and need of extensive repairs. It was decided that without these repairs being carried out she might need to be scrapped; this triggered outrage amongst members of the public; thus leading them to write an emotive poem that touched many hearts; eventually, the Navy Department took notice and saved the old iron side!

Although she hasn’t seen active service since 1940, Old Ironsides still serves as a museum and tours are open to thousands of people each year. Her nickname of Old Ironsides remains an enduring symbol of America even today!

While Holmes never set foot aboard the frigate that inspired this poem, his words certainly had an effect. It’s remarkable to think he wrote it at only 21 – perhaps in one afternoon while procrastinating law school – yet its impact lasted and earned national acclaim. After writing this famous work he went on to pen several breakfast-table papers starting with The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table as well as books such as Over the Teacups; continuing writing poetry and prose throughout his life.

The ship’s history

Constitution’s nickname wasn’t simply chosen based on her name or design – instead, it evolved from her combat experiences. A crew member wrote in their diary entry from Guerriere that this American frigate had earned the name Old Ironsides due to being relatively impenetrable by enemy fire.

Constitution’s victory at this battle became one of many that cemented her place in U.S. naval history and tradition, cementing Old Ironsides’s place among American frigates during the War of 1812. Over time, other American frigates also earned similar nicknames due to similar experiences – none reached as great an impactful fame as Old Ironsides did!

The USS Constitution was an impressive vessel even before she participated in the War of 1812. She was constructed between 1794 and 1797 to help combat French privateers during the Quasi-War with France and Barbary pirates during the First Barbary War. Her unique design included a center section that held masts for mast support; her construction used white oak with copper sheeting as her material of choice, and her hull was thicker than most wooden ships her size, making her faster than many wooden ships of her time.

However, she truly gained her fame during the War of 1812. Following battles, she participated in which she made waves against British frigates, after which they abandoned one-on-one confrontations for fear of being outgunned by American ships.

Over its history, the USS Constitution served in many battles – such as those during the American Civil War – as well as traveling throughout the globe. Today she forms part of Boston National Historic Park and tours are offered.

As the oldest commissioned ship in history, the USS Constitution stands as an iconic representation of American power and serves as a reminder of its long legacy of service. Her ability to withstand enemy fire without taking significant damage provides military leaders with a great lesson. She earned the name Old Ironsides to commemorate her extraordinary military accomplishments.