Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/30

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
20
Ch. 1
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Humphreys from the blame of committing an outrage not only lawless but purposeless. At about seven o'clock the British officers left the ship, taking with them the three Americans and Jenkin Ratford. Immediately afterward Commodore Barron sent Lieutenant Allen on board the "Leopard" with a brief letter to Captain Humphreys:—

"I consider the frigate 'Chesapeake' your prize, and am ready to deliver her to any officer authorized to receive her. By the return of the boat I shall expect your answer."

The British captain immediately replied as follows:

"Having to the utmost of my power fulfilled the instructions of my commander-in-chief, I have nothing more to desire, and must in consequence proceed to join the remainder of the squadron,—repeating that I am ready to give you every assistance in my power, and do most sincerely deplore that any lives should have been lost in the execution of a service which might have been adjusted more amicably, not only with respect to ourselves but the nations to which we respectively belong."

At eight o'clock Barron called a council of officers to consider what was best to be done with the ship, and it was unanimously decided to return to the Roads and wait orders. Disgraced, degraded, with officers and crew smarting under a humiliation that was never forgotten or forgiven, the unlucky "Chesapeake" dragged her way back to Norfolk.

There she lay for many months. Barron's wrong was in the nature of a crime. His brother officers