Thomas Buttersworth Jr., attributed, c.1815. During the War of 1812, Captain David Porter took his 32-gun frigate ESSEX into the Pacific in March of 1813. She was trapped a year later. Here, Buttersworth paints the battle off Valparaiso, Chile, between the USS ESSEX, the USS ESSEX, Jr., the HMS PHOEBE, and the HMS CHERUB on March 28, 1814. His painting bears no relation to what happened. The 36-gun frigate PHOEBE and 24-gun CHERUB blockaded the Americans in neutral Valpariso. On March 28, 1814, ESSEX attempted escape. A squall sent her main topmast over the side, slowing her. PHOEBE and CHERUB caught ESSEX before she could return to port. Captain Porter, hampered by short-range guns, anchored inshore, and after a two-hour battle surrendered. Of the original crew of 255, only 151 lived to be paroled and returned to America. Buttersworth painted fiction. All vessels are shown at sea, and ESSEX Jr. (a lightly armed prize of Porter’s) is in the fight. CHERUB has lost her topmast, and PHOEBE is fighting both Americans. The British took the ESSEX, but not like this.

Catalog Number 1979.79.5.1