The Shannon is shown on a port broadside flying two English flags and its sails furled on the lower yardarms. Flying from the foremast is a white banner with black lettering in reverse "Free Trade Sailors Rights". Flying from the the main mast is an American flag and a blue flag with white stars from the rear mast. Red cannnon fire is coming from the Chesapeake which is engulfed with billowing smoke. The bowsprit of the Shannon is over the Chesapeake and a huge throng of English sailors in blue and white uniforms are charging up the bowsprit and swarming onto the ratlines of the Chesapeake
This is the only known example of a reverse painting on glass of an American naval engagement. The present work was executed during the war of 1812.
During the Anglo-American War of 1812-14, the event which captured the public's imagination more than any other was the celebrated duel between the Royal Navy's frigate H.M.S. Shannon and the new republic's frigate Chesapeake. Cruising off the eastern seaboard, Captain Philip Broke of the Shannon spotted the American frigates Chesapeake and Constitution refitting in Boston. Broke immediately challenged Captain Lawrence of the Chesapeake to come out and fight and, at about noon on 1st June 1813, the latter weighed anchor and stood out of Boston Roads accompanied by a small flotilla of pleasure craft crowded with spectators anxious to witness the fight. A furious action followed lasting a mere fifteen minutes; Captain Broke was mortally wounded leading his boarding party and casualties on both vessels were very high. Soon overwhelmed, Chesapeake surrendered and Shannon took her as a prize into Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the captors were given a heroes' welcome on 6th June.