Knights of the Sea

Knights of the Sea

The True Story of the Boxer and the Enterprise and the War of 1812

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101559475
  • 288 Pages
  • NAL
  • Adult


On a September day in 1813, as the Age of Fighting Sail was coming to an end, two maritime warriors faced each other in the waters off Pemaquid Point, Maine…

Samuel Blyth was the youthful commander of His Britannic Majesty’s brig Boxer, and William Burrows, younger still, commanded the USS Enterprise. Both men valued honor over life and death, and on this day their commitment would be put to the ultimate test.

The battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise would be the only major sea engagement of the War of 1812 witnessed by people on land, and, though it lasted less than an hour, was a brutal contest whose outcome was uncertain. When the cannon smoke cleared, good men had been lost, and the U.S. Navy’s position in the war had changed.

In Knights of the Sea, David Hanna brings to vivid life a lost era-a time when sailing vessels exchanged broadsides and naval officers considered it the highest honor to harness the wind to meet their foes. This history pays tribute to the young commanders on either side, a vanishing breed who would come to be standard bearers of courage and fortitude, and would be immortalized in words by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Includes Illustrations Throughout

The battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise came to represent for those who witnessed it, lived through it, and remembered it something more than a military turning point-it became emblematic of a maritime era that would soon be gone forever.


"A wonderful read, brings the War of 1812 to life." —Ken Burns

"David Hanna’s Knights of the Sea is the finest kind of narrative history–thoroughly researched, informative and a plain good read. Hanna takes a dramatic but little known incident, the battle between the small men-of-war Boxer and Enterprise, and uses that event to explore the lives of two men, the captains of the ships, and two navies, the British navy at the peak of its power and domination, and the nascent navy of the United States, just feeling its oats. Knights of the Sea will not disappoint any who love a good rousing history, or any who are drawn to the fascinating world of combat under sail."  —James L. Nelson, Author of George Washington’s Great Gamble

"Through the prism of a single battle between two sailing warships, David Hanna focuses on the stories of the opposing commanders and unearths their opinions, principles and motivations–the very essence of their lives. Woven into this narrative is a skillful exploration of the politics and events behind the War of 1812, alongside a vivid portrait of wartime experiences on land and sea. A fine 1812 anniversary book."  —Roy Adkins, Author of Nelson’s Trafalgar, The War for All the  Oceans

"David Hanna establishes his credibility both as a writer and with the quality and depth of his historical research in Knights of the Sea. His capturing of a little-known maritime battle during the War of 1812 is surprisingly relevant in modern-day exploration of military strategy." —Captain Philip Kasky USN (Ret), former commander, USS Suribachi

"Knights of the Sea is the stirring tale of two warships, one American and one British, that clashed in a legendary battle during the War of 1812. It is also the highly engaging story of the two gallant captains of those ships, both of whom were as intrepid as C.S. Forester’s fictional creation, Horatio Hornblower. The book provides a wonderful blend of fascinating historical detail about the maritime war and the men who fought it. Meticulously researched and thoroughly enjoyable."  —Robert J. Mrazek, Author of A Dawn Like Thunder

"Much more than a book about a battle, Knights of the Sea is a fine meditation on the culture, politics, and several key charismatic individuals who shaped the Early Republic."  —Christopher Pastore, Author of Temple to the Wind

“A fascinating look at a pivot point in naval warfare.” —

"In Hanna’s skilled storytelling, heroic seamen and stout ships come alive in this rousing tale and converge on the Maine coast for a short, bloody sea battle… The well-illustrated Knights of the Sea is a great read for folks interested in Maine or maritime history. Hanna does his heroes and their forgotten war justice."