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The battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise came to represent for those who witnessed it, lived through it, and remembered it something more than a military turning point – it became emblematic of a maritime era that would soon be gone forever.

Knights of the sea : the true story of the Boxer and the Enterprise and the War of 1812  David Hanna  New York : NAL Caliber, c 2012  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. viii, 271 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG 

Print shows the American warship Enterprise engaged in battle with HMS Boxer. In decorative border with anchors, American flags, ship rigging, an eagle, and cameo portraits of two ships.

Print shows the American warship Enterprise engaged in battle with HMS Boxer. In decorative border with anchors, American flags, ship rigging, an eagle, and cameo portraits of two ships.

On a September day in 1813, as the Age of Fighting Sail was coming to an end, two maritime warriors faced each other in the waters off Pemaquid Point, Maine. Samuel Blyth was the youthful commander of His Britannic Majesty’s brig Boxer, and William Burrows, younger still, commanded the USS Enterprise. Both men valued honor over life and death, and on this day their commitment would be put to the ultimate test.

At sea in command of Enterprise when war with England was declared in 1812, Burrows cruised along the east coast of the United States in that brig during the first year of the conflict. On the 5th of September 1813, Enterprise’s lookouts sighted the Royal Navy brig Boxer, and the American warship gave chase. When she had drawn within range of her opponent, Enterprise opened fire, starting a fierce engagement in which both Burrows and the captain of the British warship were killed before Boxer surrendered. Enterprise captured Boxer and took her into nearby Portland, Maine. Here a common funeral was held for Lieutenant William Burrows, Enterprise, and Captain Samuel Blyth, Boxer, both well known and highly respected in their services.

The battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise would be the only major sea engagement of the War of 1812 witnessed by people on land, and, though it lasted less than an hour, was a brutal contest whose outcome was uncertain. When the cannon smoke cleared, good men had been lost, and the U.S. Navy’s position in the war had changed.

Graves of commanders of the Enterprise and Boxer, Eastern Cemetery, Portland, Me.

Graves of commanders of the Enterprise and Boxer, Eastern Cemetery, Portland, Me.

In Knights of the Sea, David Hanna brings to vivid life a lost era – a time when sailing vessels exchanged broadsides and naval officers considered it the highest honor to harness the wind to meet their foes. This history pays tribute to the young commanders on either side, a vanishing breed who would come to be standard bearers of courage and fortitude.

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