The Anglo-American 'War of 1812' witnessed several justly famous frigate actions, the second of which was fought out in mid-Atlantic, west of Madeira, on 25th October 1812. The U.S. frigate United States was cruising under orders to destroy British merchant ships when she encountered H.M.S. Macedonian. Despite the superior fire-power of the U.S. frigate, Captain Carden, R.N., ordered Macedonian to engage her, whereupon the two vessels began a furious duel lasting almost two hours, at the conclusion of which the shattered Macedonian, by then a helpless derelict, was forced to surrender and afterwards taken into Newport, Rhode Island, as a prize.
A few months later, the Royal Navy suffered another humiliating defeat when the Java, a captured French frigate, was lost off the Brazilian port of San Salvadore whilst on passage to Bombay. On the morning of 29th December, she sighted a vessel flying no colours and gave chase; her adversary turned out to be the American frigate Constitution which, despite the initial damage caused by Java's opening broadside, soon gained the upper hand. After about two hours Java was seriously damaged and at 6pm., by which time the furious engagement had lasted fully four hours, she struck her colours and surrendered. The next day, Java's smouldering hulk, far too damaged to justify repair, was put to the torch and thereby provided the United States with another major propaganda coup as the year ended.