This is CONSTELLATION in February 1799 during the action against the French frigate L'INSURGENTE off Nevis during the Quasi War. CONSTELLATION is painted with a wide yellow ochre stripe applied to the early US Navy frigates during this period. The exact scheme carried by the ship at this time is unknown and this rendition is a best guess. A model of the ship held at the Smithsonian shows the hull painted in overall yellow ochre, but many paintings show the ship with the more familiar wide gun stripe and so I have chosen this version as a matter of personal preference.
CONSTELLATION was one of the original six frigates authorized for the early United States Navy by the Naval Act of 1794. Nominally rated at 38 guns, CONSTELLATION (and her sister CONGRESS) were built on smaller lines than the larger 44-gun CONSTITUTION, UNITED STATES, and PRESIDENT. The ship was built by David Stodder at the Joseph and Samuel Sterett shipyard in Baltimore. Launched on 7 September 1797, she sailed under the command of Captain Thomas Truxtun to the Caribbean in December 1798 to protect American commerce in the region. During this period, CONSTELLATION engaged and captured the French frigates L'INSURGENTE and LA VENGEANCE -- the first victories by a warship designed and built in the United States.
The illustration above depicts CONSTELLATION with a rig based on the sail/spar plans for CONGRESS and CONSTITUTION. No sail plan of CONSTELLATION herself is known to exist; this rendition is modified from aforementioned sail plans using CONSTELLATION's spar dimensions of 1801 from Howard I. Chapelle's The American Sailing Navy: The Ships and Their Development
. Any errors in the illustration are mine alone. Thanks to CraigH
for the lines of the American national ensign -- I recolored to better match Shipbucket standards, but the shape is his.