Yep a twofer today and no this is not a post about a wheelchair-bound detective. (Does anyone actually get that joke?) This is about The USS Constitution or “Old Ironsides” as she was called. In the top picture above, on the plaque is a piece of copper from its hull.
No, that copper is not why it was called Ironsides. Stay tuned for that.
The Constitution was launched in 1797 and was one of the first frigates in the fledgling United States Navy. Named by President Washington for our guiding document, it became the centerpiece of small yet tenacious presence on the ocean.
She was armed with 30 24 pound cannon, 15 on each side, 22 32 pound cannon, 11 on each side, as well as 4 smaller “chase” cannons. She was armed for war and during the War of 1812 she would end up becoming a legend.
On 19 August 1812 the Constitution faced off against the HMS Guerriere, a slightly smaller vessel but with a veteran crew. As the battle was joined several of the Guerriere’s cannonballs bounced off the sides of the ship doing no damage but causing one of the American sailors to shout out, “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!” The name sort of stuck after that. The battle would end with the Constitution victorious and more victories would follow.
She would stay in service until 1853 when she was converted into a training ship where she served as a classroom and barracks for the Naval Academy until 1871 when she was retired, eventually becoming a museum ship, and something you can still visit today and as she never lost her commission, should time get really bad, maybe Old Ironsides will be called on again.