The USS Constellation


The USS Constellation captured the French L’Insurgente in a single-ship action between the frigates on 9 February 1799. The previous year, French privateering attacks against American vessels had led to the undeclared Quasi-War. Four US naval squadrons were sent to the Caribbean with orders to seize armed French vessels and prevent attacks on American ships. The squadron under Commodore Thomas Truxtun was on assignment in the waters between Puerto Rico and Saint Kitts when his flagship Constellation, cruising independently, met and engaged L’Insurgente, commanded by Michel-Pierre Barreaut. After chasing the French ship through a storm, Truxtun forced an engagement. The French frigate surrendered after 74 minutes with heavy casualties; the Americans sustained only a few casualties. L’Insurgente was taken to Saint Kitts and commissioned into the United States Navy as USS Insurgent. The action was the first victory over an enemy warship for the newly formed navy, and Truxtun was praised by the American government and public.

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