Roaring and belching fire, Constitution's guns were like huge and dangerous dragons when the enemy drew near. Seamen fed their smoking mouths with gunpowder and iron. Thick ropes controlled them, yet with every shot they jerked and lurched, threatening to break loose. Constant training taught each member of the gun crew his job in handling these hot, heavy beasts. Yet nothing could really quite prepare him for the smoke, the noise, the blood and the deadly flying splinters of the gun deck in battle.
Using the list of primary source quotes, ask students to write a historic fiction short story or skit to perform for their classmates about battle. The quotes are divided between the three main phases of a battle: the anticipation of impending warfare, the chaos of battle, and the aftermath from the point of view of both sides. All the quotes are taken from letters, journal entries, reports, and other primary source documents from the War of 1812.