Posted by: Waring Hills | 25 October 2010

Victory at Sea, 25 October 1812

Capture of HMS Macedonian, October 25, 1812

One hundred and ninety-eight years ago, the young United States Navy gained a victory at sea against the world’s most powerful Navy, when the USS President defeated the HMS Macedonian in a sea battle  west of the Canary Islands. Captain Stephen Decatur used his sailing skills and long-range firing accuracy to destroy Macedonian’s mizzen top mast, which let her driver gaff fall. Once Decatur clearly had sailing advantage, he methodically fired upon the ship until the Macedonian struck her colors.  She was repaired and placed into U.S. Naval service.

Captain Stephen Decatur, United States Navy

On board the USS President was the Secretary of the Navy’s son, young midshipman Archibald Hamilton. Decatur selected him to deliver the Macedonian’s battle flag to Washington and young Hamilton arrived during a ball honoring the Navy held by Dolly Madison, the President’s wife. His father, Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, watched as his midshipman son laid the prizes of war at the feet of President Madison’s wife.  The Hamilton’s were from the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, 1809-1813

Archibald Hamilton would be promoted to Lieutenant for his service under Decatur, but would be killed in a running sea battle on January 15, 1815. The treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24th, 1814, but the news had not made it to the Atlantic seaboard of the United States. Alas, the cruelties of war!

Read more detail on the battle between President and Macedonian here…



  1. Wasn’t it UNITED STATES vs MACEDONIAN (with an N on the end)?

    • Yes, I must have had a mental block on the n! Thanks for the quick correction in close!


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