All Hands on Deck: Learning Adventures Aboard Old Ironsides
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USS Constitution, Johnson

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Eyewitness Account
Reading a primary source

What was it like to see the enemy ship against which you had fought for your life explode and sink to the bottom of the sea? Moses Smith, a seaman on Constitution, wrote about Guerriere’s last moments in his diary. Describe your response to this personal account by answering the questions below.

eyewitness account

What was left of Guerriere when Constitution separated from her? In your own words, describe her condition, identifying her remaining parts. Hull without masts, but ornamentation intact
2. (a) What caused the explosion that sank Guerriere? The magazine exploded.
(b) Describe what Smith saw when the explosion occurred. Answers may vary, but essentially, the quarter deck lifted into the air and blew apart, and the hull split in two.

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