John Kendrick's Final Salute
December 12, 1794 - John Kendrick was a Cape Cod sea captain who lived an adventure-filled life commanding whaling ships in peacetime and war ships during the American Revolution. He died on this day in a freak accident.
Kendrick's ship, Lady Washington, was in Fair Haven (now known as Honolulu) where he and his crew came to the aid of the local Hawaiian chief named Kalanikupule. An invading chief named Kaeo was trying to drive Kalanikupule out, but Kendrick teamed up with a British vessel, The Jackal, and together they helped Kalanikupule's warriors kill Kaeo and his men.
The next day Kendrick ordered his crew to celebrate the victory by offering a 13-gun salute. The Jackal returned the salute with a cannon volley of its own but tragically one of its guns was still loaded with real grapeshot. It struck and killed Kendrick along with several of his officers as they ate breakfast on the deck of the Lady Washington.
You can visit (and sail on) a full-sized replica of Kendrick's ship, Lady Washington at Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in Aberdeen, Washington.