On this date in 1812, one of the touchstone episodes in the history of the U.S. Navy occurred.
A British naval squadron had been pursuing the U.S. frigate Constitution. On August 19, one of their number, HMS Guerrierre, had the misfortune of catching her.
The battlecruisers of their day, the U.S. 44-gun frigates were unusually heavy for their class; anything they couldn't out-shoot, they could outrun. Anything they couldn't outrun...
Constitution shot Guerrierre to ribbons, dismasting her in a short, sharp fight, and earning her nickname of "Old Ironsides" as the British broadsides proved ineffective against her thick timbers of Georgia live oak. The victorious ship became something of a mascot to the U.S.N., so far did its exploits go to boost morale in the fledgling service.
USS Constitution is still on the Navy's rolls, and remains afloat in Boston.