Within 45 minutes the Guerriere had been
reduced to a wrecka feat that astonished both
sides of the Atlantic. In that battle our most
famous and historic ship, the Constitution, won its
nickname Old Ironsides as enemy shot bounced
harmlessly off its thick wooden hull.
As already pointed out, Decatur (fig. 2-6)
received his training in Prebles school in the
Mediterranean. Now in command of the United
States, he faced the Macedonia, one of the finest
ships of its class in the Royal Navy. Decatur,
choosing his position well, decided to fight at long
range and gradually wear down his opponent.
Quickly analyzing the battle situation, Decatur
saw that the greater range of his guns would
enable him to outshoot and cripple the British. He
cleverly maneuvered his ship and prevented the
enemy from closing in. His gunners fired rapidly
and accurately, and more than a hundred shots
penetrated the Macedonias hull. Down came its
mizzenmast. Both the fore and main top-masts
were shot off. After 2 hours of fighting, the battle
was over. The victory was a great exhibition
of leadership by Decatur, who had an
exceptional ability to instill his own spirit
into his men. He describes that spirit as follows:
The enthusiasm of every officer, seaman, and
marine on board this ship, on discovering the
enemy, their steady conduct in battle, and
precision of their fire, could not be surpassed.
Figure 2-6.-Praise can be a motivating force. Captain Stephen Decatur substituted praise for
oaths and floggingand his gunners poured 100 shots at long range into the enemy Macedonia
in the War of 1812.