The British frigate, HMS Shannon, was under the command of Capt. Philip Bowes Vere Broke. The American frigate, USS Chesapeake, was commanded by Capt. James Lawrence. The "Chesapeake" carried 50 guns and a crew of of 379 men.
On June 1, at about noon, the Chesapeake left Boston Harbour. At 5:30 P.M., the Chesapeake was heading right for the Shannon. Broke feared the Chesapeake would pass under the Shannon's stern and rake her deck. But for some reason, Lawrence overlooked his advantage. At 5:50 P.M., the Shannon opened fire and Chesapeake replyed with a heavy broadsides. Although the American broadsides were inflicting heavy damage on the Shannon, it also suffered greatly from the British guns. Minutes later, with her jib sheet and foretop sail tie shot away, the Chesapeake was exposed to the Shannon's heavy broadsides. These broadsides inflicted heavy cassualties on the American crew, but they continued to exchange cannon fire with the British.
At 6:00 P.M., the 2 frigates came together and Broke ordered the 2 ships lashed together. On board the Chesapeake, there was mass confusion. Lawrence while standing on deck giving orders to his crew was shot down, he was carried below exclaiming "Don't Give Up The Ship".
At 6:02 P.M., Broke and 20 men boarded the Cheaspeake, as they did the American gun crews left their guns and ran below deck. The only man that seemed to make a stand was the chaplain, Mr. Livermore, who came toward Broke, firing his pistol. Broke stopped him with a swipe of his Toledo blade which nearly severed the chaplain's arm, he died later of his wounds.
The marines continued to defend the Chesapeake bravely, but of the 44 men, 14 were dead and 20 were wounded.
Lt. George Budd tried to get the crew below to follow him up on deck to defend the ship, but only a few followed him. They repulsed the British briefly, then surrendered. Broke wrote: "The enemy fought desperately, but in disorder."
At 6:05 P.M., the Chesapeake's colors were hauled down ending the battle, 15 minutes after the first shot was fired.
The British sailed the Chesapeake to Halifax, Nova Scotia where Lawrence and Lt. Ludlow were buried with military honors.