John Shaw - Captain of USS Enterprise

Not a direct ancestor, I believe our Shaws were from his brother.
John Shaw (1773 - 17 September 1823) was a Captain in the early years of the United States Navy.
He was born at
Mt. Mellick, Queens County, Ireland, in 1773. Son of an officer in the British Army. Came to the United States with a younger brother in December of 1790 and settled in Philedelphia, PA. He entered the merchant marines.
August 3, 1798 - Appointed Lietuenant, in the United States Navy, he first served on the in
Commodore Thomas Truxtun's squadron in the West Indies during the early part of the Quasi-War with France.

The Quasi-War with France

After the United States Congress disbanded the Continental Navy in 1784, American merchant ships were unprotected. France was in the middle of its own revolution, and the French revolutionaries soon began seizing American ships. This matter escalated to the level of an undeclared war, which later became known as the "Quasi-War." In response, Congress established the Department of the Navy in April 1798, and two months later the United States Marine Corps. The first ship named Enterprise to serve with the newly-formed United States Navy was a 12-gun schooner affectionately known as the "Lucky Little Enterprise."On 20 October 1799, he was given command of the schooner Enterprise in which, during the next year, he captured seven armed French vessels and recaptured several American merchantmen. By the time he was relieved of command due to ill health in October 1800, he had made Enterprise one of the most famous vessels of the Navy.

This first
USS Enterprise sailed on December 17, 1799, to the Caribbean under command of Lt. John Shaw. She was based at Basseterre, St. Kitts and saw much action against the French, capturing eight French privateer ships and recapturing 11 American merchantmen. A recounting of some of these prizes attests to the success of the Enterprise and her crew.

Enterprise first recaptured the American brig Polly on January 10, 1800, near Martinique. On January 23, she recaptured the schooner Victory and on the very next day, recaptured the brig Androscoggin. The Enterprise captured a French privateer off St. Croix on May 5, the privateer Le Cygne on June 17, l'Eagle on July 9, La Flambeau on July 23, and the heavily-armed Guadeloupean on September 7. The ailing Lt. Shaw was replaced by Lt. Andrew Sterrett on October 27, 1800, and under Sterrett's command, the Enterprise captured the French privateers La Amour De La Patrie and Le Citoyen.

In February 1801, Congress ratified the treaty ending the Quasi-War between the United States and France. Peace did not last long, however. For some time, the regencies of the North African Barbary Coast had demanded payment of tribute for the safe passage of American ships through the Mediterranean. When President Thomas Jefferson refused to accept a substantial increase in the amount of tribute demanded by Bashaw Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli, the Bashaw declared war on the United States. This pleased at least one American naval officer. Captain William Bainbridge is said to have commented that he did not want to sail again to the Mediterranean "with tribute except it be from the mouth of a cannon."

During the
First Barbary War, Shaw commanded frigate Adams in the Mediterranean under Commodore John Rodgers from May to November 1804; and frigate United States during the War of 1812. Captain Shaw died at Philadelphia.

It would be interesting to write a historical novel about the historic ship, and the Captain who made the name famous...

The third
USS Enterprise, a schooner, was built by Henry Spencer at Baltimore, Maryland, in 1799, and placed under the command of Lieutenant John Shaw.

17 December 1799, Enterprise departed the Delaware Capes for the Caribbean to protect United States merchantmen from the depredations of French privateers during the Quasi-War with France. Within the following year, Enterprise captured eight privateers and liberated 11 American vessels from captivity, achievements which assured her inclusion in the 14 ships retained in the Navy after the Quasi-War.

After Lieutenant Shaw, due to ill health, was relieved by Lieutenant
Andrew Sterett, Enterprise sailed to the Mediterranean, raising Gibraltar on 26 June 1801, where she was to join other U.S. warships in writing a bright and enduring page in American naval history. Enterprise's first action came on 1 August 1801 when, just west of Malta, she defeated the 14-gun Tripolitan corsair Tripoli, after a fierce but one-sided battle. Unscathed, Enterprise sent the battered pirate into port since the schooner's orders prohibited taking prizes.
Her next victories came in
1803 after months of carrying despatches, convoying merchantmen, and patrolling the Mediterranean. On 17 January, she captured Paulina, a Tunisian ship under charter to the Bashaw of Tripoli, and on 22 May, she ran a 30-ton craft ashore on the coast of Tripoli. For the next month Enterprise and other ships of the squadron cruised inshore, bombarding the coast and sending landing parties to destroy enemy small craft.

23 December 1803, after a quiet interval of cruising, Enterprise joined with frigate Constitution to capture the Tripolitan ketch Mastico. Refitted and renamed Intrepid, the ketch was given to Enterprise's commanding officer, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr., for use in a daring expedition to burn frigate Philadelphia, captured by the Tripolitans and anchored in the harbor of Tripoli. Decatur and his volunteer crew carried out their mission perfectly, destroying the frigate and depriving Tripoli of a powerful warship. Enterprise continued to patrol the Barbary Coast until July 1804 when she joined the other ships of the squadron in general attacks on the city of Tripoli over a period of several weeks.

Enterprise passed the winter in Venice, Italy, where she was practically rebuilt by May 1805. She rejoined her squadron in July and resumed patrol and convoy duty until August of 1807. During that period she fought (15 August 1806) a brief engagement off Gibraltar with a group of Spanish gunboats who attacked her but were driven off. Enterprise returned to the United States in late 1807, and cruised coastal waters until June 1809. After a brief tour in the Mediterranean, she sailed to New York where she was laid up for nearly a year.

Repaired at the
Washington Navy Yard, Enterprise was recommissioned there in April 1811, then sailed for operations out of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. She returned to Washington on 2 October and was hauled out of the water for extensive repairs and modifications: when she sailed on 20 May 1812, she had been rerigged as a brig.

At sea when war was declared on
Britain, she cruised along the east coast during the first year of hostilities. On 5 September 1813, Enterprise sighted and chased HBM Brig Boxer. The brigs opened fire on each other, and in a closely fought, fierce and gallant action which took the lives of both commanding officers, Enterprise captured Boxer and took her into nearby Portland, Maine. Here a common funeral was held for Lieutenant William Burrows, Enterprise, and Captain Samuel Elyth, Boxer, both well-known and highly respected in their services.

After repairing at Portland,
Enterprise sailed in company with brig Rattlesnake, for the Caribbean. The two ships took three prizes before being forced to separate by a heavily armed ship on 25 February 1814. Enterprise was compelled to jettison most of her guns in order to outsail her superior antagonist. The brig reached Wilmington, North Carolina, on 9 March 1814, then passed the remainder of the war as a guardship off Charleston, South Carolina.

Enterprise served one more short tour in the Mediterranean (July-November 1815), then cruised the northeastern seaboard until November 1817. From that time on she sailed the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, suppressing pirates, smugglers, and slaves; in this duty she took 13 prizes. Her long career ended on 9 July 1823, when, without injury to her crew, she stranded and broke up on Little Curacao Island in the West Indies.