British impressment of United States sailors into military service prompted the 44-gun frigate USF President, commanded by Comm. J. Rodgers, to cruise along the coast in this area watching for British warships. The President encountered the 20-gun HMS Little Belt off the Chesapeake Capes on 16 May 1811. When the British sloop did not identify its purpose, the two ships began exchanging broadsides. The Little Belt was badly damaged and the engagement ended. This naval duel provoked disagreement about freedom of the seas and impressment that resulted in the U.S. declaration of war in June 1812.
Original Sponsor: Department of Historic Resources
Geographic Location: Virginia Beach
Physical Description of Location: Marker location is an estimate at the time marker was approved by DHR. Actual location will be updated when marker is cast and erected.
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