Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/22

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Ch. 1.

liar attention. The "Leopard's" ports were seen to be triced up; but the season was midsummer, the weather was fine and warm, and the frigate was in sight of her anchorage. Doubtless Barron ought not to have allowed a foreign ship-of-war to come alongside without calling his crew to quarters,—such was the general rule of the service; but the condition of the ship made it inconvenient to clear the guns, and the idea of an attack was so extravagant that, as Barron afterward said, he might as well have expected one when at anchor in Hampton Roads. After the event several officers, including Captain Gordon, affirmed that they felt suspicions; but they showed none at the time, and neither Gordon nor any one else suggested, either to the commodore or to each other, that it would be well to order the crew to quarters.

Barron went to his cabin to receive the British officer, whose boat came alongside. At a quarter before four o'clock Lieutenant Meade from the "Leopard" arrived on board, and was shown by Captain Gordon to the commodore's cabin. He delivered the following note:—

"The captain of his Britannic Majesty's ship 'Leopard' has the honor to enclose the captain of the United States ship 'Chesapeake' an order from the Honorable Vice-Admiral Berkeley, commander-in-chief of his Majesty's ships on the North American station, respecting some deserters from the ships (therein mentioned) under his command, and supposed to be now serving as part of the crew of the 'Chesapeake.'