To the Editors:
As a postscripts to “The Great Sea Battle” by Peter Padfield in the December, 1968, issue, I believe that the final disposition of the U.S.S. Chesapeake may be of interest to the author.
In Wickham, England, a village near Portsmouth, there is a grain mill called the Chesapeake Mill. It is built from the timbers of the U.S.S. Chesapeake . I noticed the name one day in 1959 while travelling through Wickham, and my curiosity as to why a name of American Indian origin should appear in an old English village caused me to inquire as to its origin from the operators of the mill.
The mill was built sometime around 1820 by the forebears of the present owner. It can be surmised that the Chesapeake was sailed back to Portsmouth from Halifax after some refitting following the battle with the H.M.S. Shannon . Whether or not the Chesapeake was repaired and sailed under the white ensign could be determined from British records. However, she was obviously sold sometime later, broken up, and converted to a mill which is still operating today, a measure of the sturdiness of her timbers.
I wrote the U.S. Naval Academy Museum and offered to send a piece of timber, which the mill owner kindly consented to give me. The reply I received indicated that since the United States had fared badly in that engagement, no further mementos were needed. [Editors’ note: According to the Department of the Navy, “several blocks of wood from this mill have been accessioned by the Division of Naval History.”]
However, I think Mr. Padfield might like to know that the Shannon ’s defeated enemy is, or was at last report, firmly resting on English soil. Please so inform him.