The Legend of The Rooster

On the morning of the 11th of September, the British squadron sailed from the north, around Cumberland Head and into the bay where Macdonough’s fleet was waiting. 

 “As the English squadron stood bravely in, young Thomas Macdonough, who feared his foes not at all, but his God a great deal, knelt for a moment, with his officers on the quarter-deck; and then ensued a few minutes of perfect quiet, the men waiting in grim expectancy for the opening of the fight.The American ship Eagle spoke first with her long 18’s (cannon) but to no effect, for the shot fell short.  Then, as the British ship Linnet passed the American ship Saratoga, she fired her broadside of long 12’s, but her shot also fell short, except one that struck a coop containing a gamecock that happened to be aboard the Saratoga. Instead of being frightened at his sudden release, he jumped up on a gun-slide, clapped his wings, and crowed lustily.  The men laughed and cheered; and immediately afterward Macdonough himself fired the first shot from one of the long guns.  The 24-pound ball struck the British ship Confiance near the hawse-hole and ranged the length of her deck, killing and wounding several men. All the American long guns now opened and were replied to by the British galleys.”

The story of the plucky rooster has been handed down over time and is dedicated in several paintings of the battle including one on a mural in Plattsburgh’s City Hall.  Today, the U.S. Navy continues to have the rooster as a mascot on the USS Saratoga aircraft carrier.