A Bicentennial Moment: USS Constitution Sails

Yesterday, the big news, historically speaking, was not activities at Tin Pot Run Ford but rather the brief trip of the USS Constitution:

She was made from Georgia live oak, pinned with copper nails from Paul Revere.

Her active career spanned from the days of George Washington to the eve of the Civil War. The story of the USS Constitution *is* the story of the early American Navy and, to some degree, that of the country. Yesterday’s “sail” was the first since 1997, and timed to the anniversary of the Constitution‘s duel with the frigate HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812.

As the oft told tale recounts, the sturdy construction and the strength of that live oak earned the Constitution the nickname “Old Ironsides.”

But being a preservationist, I would be remiss by not mentioning this ship was one of America’s first great preservation efforts… in 1830. The words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. sounded that clarion:

Old Ironsides

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar;–
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
Or know the conquered knee;–
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

A ship with an amazing story. And a preserved piece of our history.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

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