Canary Islands (WHTM) — She was the first of the first.

On March 27, 1794, The United States Congress authorized construction of the original six frigates of the United States Navy. The ships were built to the design of renowned naval architect Joshua Humphreys, powerful enough to take on any British or French frigate afloat, and fast enough to escape any ship of the line. To speed up production, each ship was built at a different shipyard. On May 10, 1797, U.S.S. United States slid down the ways at Philadelphia, becoming the first of the six frigates to be launched.

Get daily news, weather, breaking news and alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here

United States was one of the three frigates rated to carry 44 guns. (Captains of these ships would cram on as many extra guns as possible, so the 44s sometimes carried as many as 54 cannons). Her cannons were 24 pounders, meaning they could fire a shot weighing 24 pounds – one of the most formidable naval guns at the time.

When the War of 1812 began on June 18, United States was commanded by Stephan Decatur, one of the first American naval heroes. He’d gained distinction during the Quasi-war with France from 1798 to 1800, and in the fights against the Barbary pirates from 1801 to 1805.

On October 25, 1812, while patrolling near the Canary Islands, the United States spotted the H.M.S Macedonian. Macedonian was a 38-gun frigate launched in 1810, armed with 18-pound guns, and commanded by John Surman Carden.

As it happened, Decatur and Carden knew each other; in fact, they might be considered good friends aside from the trifling matter of a state of war existing between their countries. In January of 1812, before hotter heads prevailed and the war began, Macedonian was visiting Norfolk, Virginia, and Carden dined with Decatur and his wife. A jovial discussion ensued about which of their ships would win in a naval battle, and Carden jokingly bet a beaver skin hat on the outcome.

Then the discussed battle happened for real, and the result was pretty one-sided. Macedonian’s 18-pound guns were no match for United States’ 24-pounders, either in firepower or range. As the Macedonian attempted to close on the United States, the American frigate stood off and methodically pounded the British frigate into a dismasted hulk, with 100 round shots embedded in her hull, 43 crew killed, and 71 wounded-30 percent of her crew. (United States had only 12 casualties). Carden struck his colors around noon.

For the next two weeks, the ships stayed side by side, while the Macedonian was patched up enough to sail her into port. Her arrival as a prize ship at Newport, Rhode Island was a national sensation. She was bought by the U.S. Navy, and as U.S.S. Macedonian served into the 1820s.

In July of 1813, the British Admiralty secretly issued an order to captains to avoid one-on-one combat with American frigates.

There’s no word on whether Captain Carden ever made good on the hat bet.