Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume III by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume III by  Mara L. Pratt

The Wasp and the Frolic

Between ships with such lively names as these, we might well expect a lively battle.

One Sunday morning, just after sunrise, an American vessel, the Wasp fell in with the Frolic, a vessel which was guarding some merchant vessels on their way from the West Indies.

The Wasp began at once to get herself ready for a real wasp fight. The Frolic did the same; but as she had only just weathered a severe storm, I fear she did not feel in a very frolicsome mood.

It was a rough morning. The sea rolled, the waves piled up and broke over the vessels' sides, making even the oldest sea-dogs stagger about, as they prepared for battle.

At last the signal was given, and bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! went the guns from both the Wasp and the Frolic. For a time it was uncertain which would stand the storm of fire.

At the very first volley the Wasp lost mast and rigging and pitched wildly about on the foaming sea, tossing her men in every direction over the slippery deck.

But, swinging round, she quickly brought her side over against the bows of the Frolic, and let fire a volley which raked the other vessel from stem to stern, carrying death to nearly every soul on deck.

And now, so close were they, that the crew of the Wasp, with yells and howls, swarmed over the sides of their vessel, boarding the Frolic with wild cheers of triumph.

Two other naval battles took place during this year of 1812, in both of which the Americans were victorious.

The English were struck dumb with amazement; and I suspect the Americans themselves were hardly less surprised. The English newspapers growled and snarled. "What!" said they; "shall an English man-of-war, which has not been beaten since the days of Queen Elizabeth, be beaten now by a parcel of American-built ships, manned by raw sailors! Shall our Britannia, which so long has ruled the sea, be beaten by this upstart nation!"

But notwithstanding all that had been, it now was  that the American nation had proved itself as brave on sea as on land; and the great English navy was forced to acknowledge a rival.

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