At about half-past three o'clock, both ships being eight or ten miles southeast by east of Cape Henry, the "Leopard" came down before the wind, and rounding to, about half a cable's length to windward, hailed, and said she had despatches for the commodore. Barron returned the hail and replied, "We will heave to and you can send your boat on board of us." British ships-of-war on distant stations not infrequently sent despatches by the courtesy of American officers, and such a request implied no hostile purpose. British ships also arrogated a sort of right to the windward; and the "Leopard's" manœuvre, although one which no commander except an Englishman would naturally have made, roused no pecu-
table, and Barren, Gordon, Captain Hall of the marines, Dr. Bullus and his wife sat down to it. Captain Gordon afterward testified that as they were dining Commodore Barron noticed the British frigate through the larboard forward port of the cabin, and made the remark "that her movements appeared suspicious, but she could have nothing to do with us." Barron positively denied ever having made the remark; but whether he said it or not, nothing more than a passing doubt occurred to him or to any other person on board. Gordon returned to his work; the crew began to stow away the cable; and at a quarter before three o'clock, the pilot-boat nearing, the "Chesapeake" again stood out to sea, the "Leopard" immediately following her tack.
- Court-martial, p. 101.