Yesterday the NHS team received a very exciting bit of research from Stephen Duffy, author of Captain Blakeley and the Wasp - a copy of a letter and drawing sent by Isaac Chauncey in July 1805 to then Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith. It reads:
I have the honor to submit for your consideration and approval a plan of the head for the U.S. Brig Hornet building at this place -
I have the honor to be (etc)
As those who've read the cursory history of Hornet published on the NHS website, the ship was originally fitted with an eagle figurehead that could be unshipped and replaced with a plain billet head. Several contemporaries wrote of admiring the carving, which reportedly had an eight foot wing span, and even Hornet's builder, William Price, reported that it was hoisted into position on the ship's stem from the roof of his home and office at 910 Fell Street in Baltimore - a building which still stands today.
This latest bit of research is the first actual sketch, drawing or illustration we've had of this apparently notable feature of the original ship, and needless to say, we're very excited.