NOVA SCOTIA Captain Broke 1814 Halfpenny Token Breton 879

Nova Scotia, Tokens






NOVA SCOTIA Captain Broke 1814 Halfpenny Token Breton 879, Charlton NS-7B4 gVF

Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, 1st Baronet KCB 1776 – 1841) was a distinguished officer in the British Royal Navy. During his lifetime, he was often referred to as "Broke of the Shannon", a reference to his notable command of HMS Shannon in the War of 1812. His most famous military achievement was defeating and capturing the American frigate, USS Chesapeake. 

Although Chesapeake was a slightly larger craft and had a substantially larger crew, the armament of the two ships was evenly matched. However, gunnery was Broke's area of expertise, and the crew of Shannon were exceptionally well drilled for the era.

At the time the official rating of a ship did not accurately reflect the number of cannon mounted. Thus HMS Shannon (1065 tons burthen) was classed as a 38 gun ship but mounted 48 guns in total. USS Chesapeake (1135 tons burthen) was variously rated a 36 or 38 gun ship but mounted 49 guns in total. Broke mounted a number of very small carronades in order that ships' boys and younger midshipmen could have cannon light enough for them to practise on. The force of a ship was usually calculated as "weight of metal." This was the aggregate of the weight of all the cannonballs capable of being fired in one broadside (i.e., when half of the cannon, all the guns on the same side, were fired). The British weight of metal was 547 pounds, the American weight of metal was 581 pounds. The two ships were very well matched with no preponderance of force on either side.

Chesapeake was disabled by gunfire, boarded and captured within 15 minutes of opening fire. Fifty-six sailors on Chesapeake were killed and eighty-five wounded including her captain James Lawrence, who died of his wounds on 4 June. Lawrence's last command was reported to be, "Don't give up the ship". On the Shannon, 24 were killed and 59 wounded, including Broke who sustained a serious head wound while leading the boarding party. The head wound from a cutlass blow, which had exposed the brain, had been very severe accompanied by great blood loss. Therapeutic bleeding, routinely employed at the time, was not performed by Shannon's surgeon Mr Alexander Jack, which was to Broke's advantage. The report of the surgeon described the wound as "a deep cut on the parietal bone, extending from the top of the head ... towards the left ear, [the bone] penetrated for at least three inches in length."

Lieutenant Provo Wallis, a Nova Scotian, took command of Shannon as the frigate and her prize returned to Halifax as surgeons worked to save Broke. In Halifax, Broke recovered at the Commissioner's residence in the Halifax Naval Yard.

Shannon's victory created a sensation in both the United States and the United Kingdom, especially in the newspapers of the era. In recognition, Broke was created a baronet on 25 September 1813. He became a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 3 January 1815. He was also awarded a Naval Gold Medal, one of only eight awarded for single ship actions between 1794 and 1816. While his wounds precluded further active service, Broke served as a naval gunnery specialist in the Royal Navy. He was promoted to rear admiral of the red on 22 July 1830.