HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
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My Lost Youth: Longfellow's Portland, Then and Now

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The "Boxer" and "Enterprise," Monhegan, 1831

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The "Boxer" and "Enterprise," Monhegan, 1831 / Maine Historical Society

I REMEMBER THE SEA-FIGHT FAR AWAY,
HOW IT THUNDERED O'ER THE TIDE!
AND THE DEAD CAPTAINS, AS THEY LAY
IN THEIR GRAVES, O'ERLOOKING THE TRANQUIL BAY
WHERE THEY IN BATTLE DIED.

On September 5, 1813, the American Brig Enterprize and the British Brig Boxer battled off the Maine coast. According to George Thornton Edwards' The Youthful Haunts of Longfellow, "The War of 1812 was brought on by England's arrogant insistence in boarding American vessels, and taking away American sailors, or any other sailors for that matter, that her naval officers saw fit, by merely claiming they were English subjects. It was necessary to put a stop to this practice in its incipiency, and the "Enterprise" with several other vessels were fitted out with crews and armament to look out for English privateers."

Lieutenant William Burrows, Commander of the Enterprise, and Captain Samuel Blythe of the Boxer died in the battle. There were 28 English killed in the battle and 14 wounded; Burrows was the only American who died on the day of battle. However, of the thirteen Americans wounded, three died the following day.

While Longfellow was only six years old at the time, the battle and the fame that surrounded it made a deep impression on him.

 

Item 47 of 65