Zac McDorr“I remember the sea-fight far away,
How it thundered o’er the tide!
And the dead captains, as they lay
In their graves, o’erlooking the tranquil bay,
Where they in battle died.”

These lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Lost Youth” refer to one of Maine’s most famous sea battles, where two young captains fought to the death, and then found glory and eternal rest together. It is interesting to see how the enemy sides treated each other during the War of 1812.

The battle between the USS Enterprise and the HMS Boxer was the only sea battle of the war that was witnessed by people on shore, including a six-year old Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. While America was officially at war with Britain, a great deal of illicit trade went on between the countries: Indeed, the Boxer had just escorted a merchant ship to the mouth of the Kennebec River with a cargo bound for Bath, probably firing off a few cannon when they arrived to make things look good.

The Enterprise was an American brig captained by William Burrows, enjoying his first command. He came across the Boxer off Pemaquid Point on Sept. 5, 1813. With light wind, the two ships did little at first, and then spent a couple hours maneuvering for advantage.

Finally the Boxer fired a cannon, and the Enterprise responded with a broadside. Samuel Blythe, captain of the Boxer, took an 18-pound cannonball through his midsection and died.
Not long after, Capt. Burrows took a bullet that mortally wounded him. He lived through the battle, which was won by the Enterprise, and was presented with Blythe’s sword in surrender. Then he died.

After this great American victory, the people of Portland gave both captains a large joint funeral procession, and then buried them side by side in Eastern Cemetery.