occurred in the commercial relations of the United States and France ; and the former, conceiving themselves the aggrieved party, commenced hostilities against the ships and vessels of the French republic. At this time the navy of the United States, by the spirited exertions of the general government, consisted, besides several smaller vessels, of 15 frigates, four of them the largest and heaviest that had ever been constructed. Six 74-gun ships were also ordered to be built ; but, as the differences between the two countries were soon adjusted, they were not laid down. We shall now proceed to give an account, as well as our scanty materials will enable us, of the first naval action fought between France and the United States of America.
On the 9th of February, at noon, the island of Nevis bearing west-south-west distant five leagues, the United States' 36-gun frigate Constellation, Commodore Thomas Truxton, sailing with the wind at north-east, discovered a strange ship to the southward, with, if the French accounts are correct, her main topmast gone. The Constellation, hoisting American colours, bore down ; and the stranger, which was the French 36-gun frigate Insurgente, Captain Michel-Pierre Barreaut ; hoisted her national colours, and fired a gun to windward. At 3 h. 15 m. p.m., the Insurgente hailed the Constellation ; for what purpose, the American accounts are as silent as about the previous loss of the French frigate's main topmast ; but if, as the French insist, Captain Barreaut was ignorant of the war, it might be for an explanation of the hostile manner in which the American frigate was approaching. At all events, very soon after the hail, the Constellation, ranging alongside the Insurgente, opened her broadside, and a spirited action ensued, which lasted one hour and 15 minutes ; when the French ship, having, as already stated, lost her main topmast, and been in other respects greatly damaged, struck her colours.
The Constellation, out of a complement of about 440 men and boys, had the good fortune, besides receiving little or no injury in hull or spars, to escape with so slight a loss as one man killed and two wounded ; while the Insurgente, out of a complement of 340 men and boys, is represented to have lost 29 men killed and 44 wounded.
As this victory, like many we have recorded, was gained by a "36," over a "40," or as most of the English journals had it, "44-gun frigate," there was no end to the panegyrics upon the American Commodore Truxton. Nor was it empty praise alone that the commodore received ; for in addition to the substantial testimonials which his transatlantic friends showered upon him, he was presented by the merchants of London with a handsome piece of plate, expressly for having captured a French frigate of superior force.
Commodore Truxton carried his prize to the island of St.-Kitt's. The Insurgente cruised for a few years in the American
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