National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Two weeks after James Lawrence took command of the frigate Chesapeake, he was challenged to battle by Captain Philip Broke. Broke, commander of the British frigate Shannon for seven years, was known for his rigorous gunnery training. Lawrence accepted the challenge and in a quixotic nod to chivalry passed up an opportunity of raking Shannon’s deck with gunfire. The Chesapeake inflicted great damage, but the Shannon’s accurate gunnery quickly disabled the frigate. Lawrence, fatally wounded, issued his famous order, "Don’t give up the ship." But the helpless Chesapeake was quickly captured, and the 228 casualties for both vessels made it the bloodiest frigate action of the war. It was Britain’s first major naval victory, and Broke became a British hero. Later, Oliver Hazard Perry dramatically unfurled Lawrence’s last words on a pennant to signal the beginning of the Battle of Lake Erie.