'Children of the Storm' Life at Sea in the First Six Frigates

By Charles E. Brodine Jr.

Who were the men of the first six American frigates, these children of the storm, and what attracted them to such a hazardous calling? While statistical data on U.S. Sailors of the early Navy is scarce, there is enough evidence to offer several conclusions about the men who served in these elite vessels. First, it can be said that a significant percentage of the six frigates' Sailors were foreign-born. As one contemporary, an officer in the United States, remarked, "The American man-of-war of those days had a crew composed of men of all nations, and it was rarely the case that a majority of them were native-born Americans." 2 A survey of the number of foreigners in the Constitution conducted in December 1844 revealed that 195 out of 447 crewmen (or 43.6 percent) were foreign-born, a figure that included 23 different nationalities. 3 This polyglot character of the six frigates' crews reflected the Navy's inability to recruit large numbers of American tars to man its vessels, a fact that left administrators and senior officers concerned about the loyalty and orderliness of alien Sailors. 4

Two other suggestive pieces of evidence help round out this portrait of the frigates' Sailors. The first is the age profile of the Constellation 's crew in July 1820. According Charles G. Ridgely, the ship's commander at that time, the average age of the "Yankee Racehorse's" enlisted men was "twenty seven years two months and a day," a figure confirming the youthful character of American man-of-war's men. 5 The second piece of evidence is offered by Charles Morris, the Constitution 's first lieutenant during her engagement with the Guerriere. One of the reasons Old Ironsides prevailed in that contest, observed Morris, was that many of her Sailors had served as tradesmen (carpenters, smiths, etc.) before joining the Navy. The skills these men brought with them on entering naval service proved invaluable in repairing battle damage to the frigate. 6

The men who enlisted in the six frigates did so for a variety of reasons. Edward W. Taylor, a corporal of Marines assigned to the United States in 1842, "joined the Corps . . . to visit the shores of foreign lands and" to behold "some of the human beings who inhabit . . . the boundless universe, other than those of my own happy lands." 7 Harry Rivers, another United States crewman, had originally intended to join the merchant marine before he met "a couple of old ' sea dogs,'. . . who portrayed the bustle and liveliness on board a man-of-war in such glowing colors I relinquished my former idea and determined at all risks to enroll myself under the star-spangled banner and join the navy of ' uncle Sam.'" 8 Other Sailors joined the sea service in a fit of patriotic enthusiasm to fight the nation's maritime foes. Still others signed articles to claim enlistment bounties and advanced wages.

Keeping the Crew in Line

"Order is the first great rule on board a man-of-war, and that to which all others must bend. It is in fact the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, the centre and the circumference of her whole internal organization." 9 This statement by Enoch Wines, a schoolmaster in the Constitution , captures the centrality of order to life within the wooden walls of the first six frigates. Rules, regulations, and discipline were the inescapable feature of service in these vessels. They were essential to the safe and efficient management of any ship. Whatever threat might arise at sea, be it accident, storm, or enemy ships, a frigate's crew needed to respond swiftly, correctly, and with precision, or their lives and their ship's existence might be forfeited.

Frigate Sailors felt the impact of naval order on their lives the moment they first stepped aboard their ship. At that time, the first lieutenant entered each man's name on the ship's watch, station, and quarter bill, gave him his berth and mess assignment, and assigned him his rating. In this way, each man learned what duty he was to perform and when, how, and where he would fight the ship, with whom he would eat, and where he would sleep. The first lieutenant also assigned watch and division stations to the frigate's lieutenants and midshipmen, though it should be noted that custom largely governed the messing and sleeping arrangements of the ship's officers.

Three sets of rules and regulations provided the legal and administrative underpinnings for a well-ordered frigate. These were the Navy Department Regulations, the "Articles of War," and each ship's own set of internal regulations, promulgated by the vessel's captain. Collectively these documents described the duties of officers and enlisted personnel, defined violations and punishments of naval law, articulated the method of administering justice, and established the rules governing shipboard duties and routine.

How a frigate captain maintained order and discipline in his ship was a reflection of his own philosophy on this important subject. While all officers recognized that obedience to authority was essential to the running of their vessels, they differed on what methods were best to achieve this end. A small minority of frigate commanders, most notably Thomas Truxtun, believed that flogging was an abhorrent disciplinary practice. Truxtun's philosophy was that Sailors were better led by force of character and example than by the threat of the lash. But the majority of frigate captains believed corporal punishment was an effective and essential tool to the maintenance of order and discipline in their ships. John Rodgers and William Bainbridge were two such officers who took a tough, no-nonsense approach to the application of naval discipline at sea.

Sailors, Marines, and officers committed a number of offenses that undermined the discipline and good order of a ship or that represented a serious challenge to the authority of a vessel's leadership. Drunkenness was the most common of these and the most difficult to combat, as alcohol abuse was widespread in the service. Other acts of wrongdoing included neglect of duty, insubordination, assault, and the most serious of all crimes, mutiny. Punishments ranged in severity from suspension of rations to confinement, reduction in rank, flogging, dismissal from service, and in rare cases, death. The extremes to which punishments might extend are illustrated by the case of Robert Quinn, a seaman in the President, whom a court-martial found guilty of mutiny on 23 June 1804. The court ordered Quinn "to have his Head & Eye brows shaved," to have "the Word MUTINUS" branded on his forehead, and to be flogged through the fleet with 320 lashes. 10

A Sailor's Work

It took between 350 and 450 men to sail, handle, and fight each of the early frigates. To manage the work of such a large body of men effectively required they be well-organized and well-directed. To this end, crew members responsible for working the ship were divided equally into two watches, denominated the larboard and starboard watches. Each watch took turns alternately performing the duties requisite to sailing the ship. Watch-standers thus worked one watch on, followed by one watch off, and so on. Watches were of four hours' duration, except for the period between 1600 and 2000, which was divided into two two-hour "dogwatches." The mechanism of the dogwatch prevented crewmen from having to stand the same watch, day in and day out.

Work was further organized in a frigate by stationing crewmen to one of the six divisions responsible for conducting the ship's evolutions: waist, afterguard, foretop, maintop, mizzentop, and forecastle. Assignment to each division was based on a crewman's nautical skill and experience. Work in the forecastle and in the tops required the greatest amount of seamanship, knowledge, and dexterity, while service in the waist and afterguard relied more on brute strength than sailor-like skill.

A frigate's crew had other duties beyond those relating to ship sailing. One task that occupied much of the men's time on a daily basis was keeping the ship clean and smart looking. The captains of Navy warships were quite fastidious in this regard. Typical cleaning chores included sweeping, holystoning, wetting down, and drying the decks. Other duties that improved the cosmetic appearance of the ship included polishing the ship's "bright-work," blackening her guns, whitewashing her interior, and painting her exterior.

One of the most important routines performed by frigates at sea was exercising the men at their battle stations. The prudent frigate commander regularly practiced his men at the great guns, at damage control, in the use of small arms, and in boarding techniques. Though exercising the ship's guns was often done without ammunition, a number of captains practiced with live fire and even employed targets. On the eve of his first wartime cruise in the Constitution , Isaac Hull drilled his gun divisions at target practice daily for three weeks. 11 In 1842, both Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones of the United States and Captain "Mad Jack" Percival of the Constitution practiced their men at live-fire drill, target shooting, the use of small arms, and hand-to-hand fighting. 12

Conditions on Board Ship

For frigates that had been on extended cruises, making port offered the opportunity to carry out needed repairs and replenish depleted food and water supplies. After arrival, officers organized the men into gangs and working parties to help prepare the ship for sea. The most arduous duty to be performed was watering the ship, a job that was sometimes fraught with great peril. On 2 December 1812, several boats from the Constitution tried to land on the island of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, to procure water. The heavy surf stove in one boat, damaged a second, injured one man on the rocks, and nearly drowned several others. 13 Not all watering places were hazardous, though. The Hawaiian waterfall from which the United States drew her water in the summer of 1843 was frequented by naked native women who enjoyed swimming near the falls. An amused 'States midshipman confided to his journal, "Bathing has become quite a fashionable . . . pastime with us especially when watering." 14

One feature of frigate life that proved quite taxing to the men who lived and served in those vessels was the constant exposure to the elements. Extremes of temperature, hot or cold, made life miserable for those above and below decks. "Any person who wishes for hotter weather than this can not be satisfied short of _ _ _ _," lamented a United States midshipman describing a particularly scorching summer afternoon in the Mediterranean. 15

Harsh weather conditions did not necessarily earn Sailors a respite from performing their regular duties. To scrub and wash "clothes in the open air in a snow storm," observed Nathaniel Ames of the United States , "is a thing far easier talked of than done, for shoes and stockings, and jacket must all come off upon the occasion." 16 Water taken on during storms or due to the leakiness of the ship also contributed to uncomfortable living conditions below decks. The acting chaplain of the Constitution reckoned that the frigate shipped several tons of water when heavy seas stove in the ship's hawse plugs, thereby flooding the gun deck. 17

While Navy-issued rations of salted beef and pork and hard-baked bread formed the daily staple of meals on board a frigate, the ship's company did have occasion to enjoy tastier fare. Port calls offered all the opportunity to purchase fresh provisions for their messes. Midshipman Schenck of the United States boasted that "when in port we have as good as the market affords." According to Schenck, the steerage larder contained an "Abundance of hams, tongues, and other etceteras. Besides flour, lard, butter, vegetables, [and] dryd fruit." 18 Some of the food the crew purchased came aboard in the form of livestock, to be slaughtered and consumed at a later time. After one such laying in of "fresh grub," a Constitution officer described the ship's gun deck as being "covered with geese, turkies, chickens, sheep, pigs, and rabbits, each in their proper apartment." 19 The pleasure Sailors experienced in eating fresh food instead of their regular rations can easily be imagined. United States Midshipman Samuel R. Franklin wrote that being able to eat delicious fruit, beefsteak, onion, and soft bread after a steady diet of salt pork and hardtack "produced a sensation never to be forgotten." 20

With as many as 500 men to accommodate, living conditions in a frigate were crowded. Joining the mass of humanity below decks was an animal population that included not only the critters destined for the cook's soup pot but also entire menageries the crew claimed as pets. During one of the United States ' South American cruises, the pets on board that vessel included a number of terrapins, two parrots, a monkey, a mountain rat, and a cat. 21 In 1826, birds, dogs, a goat, and a donkey comprised the roll of pets in the Constitution. 22 At different times Old Ironsides also numbered jaguars and Arabian horses among its denizens. 23 The presence of large numbers of animals below decks not only posed a health hazard to the crew but degraded the living conditions for all those who had to share space with them.

On occasion, squadron commanders brought their wives and families to live with them on board one of the frigates, which usually served as the squadron flagship. These additions to the ship's people were sometimes the subject of gossip and resentment. Peter Stuyvesant Fish, a captain's clerk in the United States during Daniel T. Patterson's command of the Mediterranean Squadron complained that Mrs. Patterson and her two daughters were running the ship: "The females have been already wished home a thousand times by every officer, as they have already given difficulty and will cause, eventually, the cruise to be disagreeable. They rule when the ship is to sail already." 24

Women caused commotions of a different sort on board ship when they gave birth to children. There are two documented examples of this rare event occurring in the six frigates, one in the United States in November 1800 and the other in the Chesapeake in April 1803. 25 It is also worth noting that the first documented record of women serving in a U.S. Navy warship occurred in one of the six frigates, when in 1813 Mary Marshall and Mary Allen were entered on the rolls of the United States as supernumeraries. According to the ship's log, the women served the frigate as nurses. 26

Passing Free Time

Spinning yarns, smoking, singing, dancing, enjoying music, and playing games (cards, checkers, and backgammon) were just some of the ways Sailors diverted themselves during their off hours. 27 Crewmen also relaxed by staging plays on board ship. During one cruise, the people of the Constitution contributed $250 toward the purchase of costumes and scenery for staging their own "aquatic threatricals." 28

Another favorite pastime on board ship was reading. Before departing for the Pacific in the spring of 1839, the Constitution 's crew purchased a library of 300 to 400 books by subscription. Titles in the new library included works by Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, and Frederick Marryat. The arrival of the ship's mail (an irregular event) offered a frigate's company additional kinds of reading material to pore over. Henry Mercier, a foretopman in the Constitution , described the eagerness with which newly arrived journals were read and shared throughout Old Ironsides: "In a little time, in every part of the ship you could perceive our frigate's newsmongers on the alert, reading aloud Heralds, Suns, Expresses, and Brother Jonathan, to attentive crowds, who were swallowing with true relish their precious contents." 29

Liberty days were eagerly anticipated by both officers and ratings once their frigate arrived in port. With wages in hand, Sailors made straight for local grog shops where they usually drank until their money ran out. At Minorca's Port Mahon, some of the more colorful Sailors' haunts bore names such as Codfish Bills, Jackknife Hotel, and The Sailor's Last Push. 30 And if local bar owners failed to separate "Jack" from the last few coins in his purse, a host of disreputable "tradesmen" cruised nearby to snap them up.

In ports of call with renowned hinterlands, frigate officers made excursions to explore the local backcountry. Midshipman Franklin visited the volcano Mauna Loa on the island of Hawaii in 1843. "It was a grand and rare sight to see this lake of liquid fire," recalled Franklin, "its waves rushing from side to side with no regular motion, but meeting each other and producing a jet of lava which would rush many feet into the air with an indescribable bank and roar." 31 Visits to European port cities also presented chances to take in memorable sights. During a tour of the royal palace in Lisbon, Captain's Clerk Peter Fish contrived to lag behind in the throne room "in order that we might say we had sat on the royal chair of the House of Braganza." 32

The early American frigate officers serving in the Mediterranean and Pacific squadrons enjoyed a rather robust social life whenever their ships were in port. In one particularly busy week at Port Mahon in February 1833, Midshipman Schenck did duty only one day out of seven, attending parties, masquerades, and the opera the remaining six. The hectic schedule prompted the young officer to complain, "I am getting tired of the Opera and Masquerades, but we have no other amusements here." 33

Conduct Under Fire

The first six frigates engaged in many types of operations over the course of their active service in peace and war. But they are best remembered for their record as combat vessels, especially in their ship-to-ship engagements in the Quasi-War with France and in the War of 1812. It was these actions that validated the concept of Joshua Humphreys' design and secured an enduring reputation for these ships and their commanders.

The battle performances of these vessels offer several lasting impressions. The first is the degree to which the American frigates proved an overmatch for their more lightly built, lightly armed opponents. Isaac Hull's official letter reporting the capture of the Guerriere describes the physical devastation the American frigates were capable of inflicting in battle. "So well directed was the fire of the Constitution ," wrote Hull, "and so closely kept up, that in less than thirty minutes, from the time we got alongside of the Enemy (One of their finest Frigates) she was left without a Spar Standing, and the Hull cut to pieces, in such a manner as to make it difficult to keep her above water." 34 Old Ironsides' gunfire wreaked similar havoc among the Guerriere's personnel, killing or wounding approximately a third of her crew.

The size, power, and speed of the American frigates continued to impress British and American observers more than a decade after their 1812 victories. Following a tour of the United States in 1825, Royal Navy Surgeon John Cunningham declared, "I had not been five minutes on board before I ceased to wonder that my friend Capt. Carden in the Macedonian, was forced to succombe to her." 35 Nathaniel Ames came to the same conclusion as Surgeon Cunningham after comparing his own ship, the United States , with the British frigate Tartar anchored nearby. The wonder, remarked Ames, was "not that we had taken any English frigate during the last war, but that any British officers could be found who had the temerity to engage such disproportionate force, or the hardihood to fight as long as they did." 36

Despite their power and speed under sail, Humphreys' frigates could not have achieved such decisive victories over their opponents had they not been commanded by skilled Sailors or manned by disciplined and spirited crews. American seamanship at its best was on display in the Truxtun-commanded Constellation 's duels with L'Insurgente and the Vengeance and in Charles Stewart's brilliant tactical handling of Old Ironsides against the Cyane and Levant . Stephen Decatur's United States was superbly fought by a crew that had sailed and trained together for more than two years. The courage and determination with which frigate crews served their guns in battle also contributed to American victories. On surrendering his sword to Isaac Hull, Guerriere Captain James R. Dacres praised the fighting spirit of the Yankee tars, declaring that the Constitution 's Sailors fought "more like tigers than men. I never saw men fight so. They fairly drove us from our quarters." 37

Absent these components leadership, discipline, high morale the American frigates did not fair so well in ship-to-ship duels. On 1 June 1813, James Lawrence rashly decided to leave the safety of Boston Harbor, sailing the Chesapeake into action against HMS Shannon . Captain Sir Philip B. V. Broke's well-disciplined, highly motivated crew made short work of the poorly led, poorly trained Chesapeake crew, resulting in the first capture of an American frigate during the War of 1812. John Rodgers' inept handling of the President during an 17-hour chase of HMS Belvidera on 23 June 1812 allowed the latter vessel to slip through his fingers, when a more aggressive handling of the American 44 would have enabled Rodgers to have claimed the first frigate victory of the war.

A Precarious Existence

Following the near-drowning of one of the Constitution 's Sailors, Surgeon Amos Evans made the following entry in his journal: "The tenure of a sailor's existence is certainly more precarious than any other man's, a soldier's not excepted. Who would not be a sailor? I, for one." 38 Evans' comment highlights one of the central features of life in the first six frigates: its precariousness. Aside from combat, Sailors were subject to death or injury from a number of causes, one of the most prevalent of which was accident. Not surprisingly, falls constituted the most frequent type of accident to befall frigate crewmen. Falls from the rigging onto the deck almost always proved lethal, while falls overboard at least afforded the possibility of rescue, assuming the victim could swim and the sea's conditions permitted it.

When James Johnson pitched into the ocean while working aloft in the Constitution in the midst of a gale, high seas prevented his shipmates from rendering him any assistance. 39 In what must surely count as one of the most ironic deaths to occur in one of the first six frigates, David Black of the United States drowned when the life buoys he had made failed and sank. Weeks earlier, Black's shipmates had criticized the poor quality of his handiwork, to which the cooper had replied, "If a man cannot save himself with these, he ought to drown." 40

Like the men who served in them, the six frigates themselves were also subject to accident, putting crew and ship at risk. On two separate occasions, the frigate Congress came within a hairsbreadth of foundering in storms. The first came on 12 January 1800, when an Atlantic gale stripped the ship entirely of its top-hamper, leaving the frigate "wrecked . . . as completely as ever a vessel was." 41 The second occurred in the fall of 1823, when a hurricane drove the frigate within a biscuit's pitch of being dashed on the rocks of La Guair a Harbor, Venezuela. 42 Collisions, groundings, and fires were other kinds of accidents that damaged and jeopardized these vessels.

Disease posed the greatest hazard to the operations of a frigate and the well-being of her crew. Due to the cramped living conditions on board ship, communicable diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza spread quickly, sometimes with devastating results. Insect- and food- or water-borne diseases, such as yellow fever, dysentery, and cholera, were also capable of incapacitating or killing large numbers of Sailors. It was common for sick lists to contain anywhere from a half-dozen to three dozen names at any point in a ship's cruise. Once illness took hold of a ship's company, these numbers could rise stratospherically. In September 1801, the President had to give up her cruising station off Tripoli temporarily and sail for Gibraltar because upward of 160 of her Sailors were sick with "a Kind of enfluensa." 43 In September 1834 an outbreak of cholera swelled the sick lists in the Constellation to 70, killing 18 crewmen and forcing an early departure for home from the Mediterranean. 44

A Deep Sense of Pride

Life at sea in America's first six frigates was little different from that experienced by U.S. Sailors serving throughout the Fleet. In this regard, service in these vessels reflected a Navy-wide experience. Yet in another sense, service in the six ships was anything but common. From 1797 until 1815, these frigates were the largest, swiftest, and most powerful ships in the Navy and a berth in any one of them was considered a choice assignment. Even after larger ships-of-the-line and newer classes of frigates entered the Fleet, the older frigates designed by Joshua Humphreys continued to elicit admiration. As one officer opined when describing the Constitution , "She is to our navy, what the first efforts of artists sometimes are; efforts which they look back to, with surprise, but cannot reach again: her model cannot be surpassed." 45

Like all Sailors, the men who sailed in these majestic vessels felt a deep pride in their ships. In part this was due to the unique appearance and qualities these frigates possessed. 46 But more important, it was because they recognized the historical significance these ships held for both the Navy and the American public. Crewmen were regularly reminded of this fact when their ships entertained civilian visitors. "Is this the same Old Constitution that won so much fame in the war?" visitors to Old Ironsides asked during a port call to New York in the spring of 1844, an experience that was repeated on many other occasions. 47

The Constitution 's crew, however, did not need civilian visitors to remind them of the frigate's significance, for among their ranks were men whose careers formed a living connection with the vessel's historic past. These were the veterans of 1812, or as Herman Melville described them, "hearty old members of the Old Guard" who spun "interminable yarns about Decatur, Hull, and Bainbridge; and [carried] about their persons bits of ' Old Ironsides,' as Catholics do the wood of the true cross." 48 It was these kinds of connections with the Navy's and the nation's historic past that gave the first frigates that continued to sail after 1815 a special standing within the American Fleet.

By the time of the Civil War, the active service of the first frigates was over, with only one of these extraordinary ships, the Constitution , having avoided the ship breaker's yard. Today, more than 200 years after she was first launched, Old Ironsides remains in commission, a visible and proud reminder of the Navy's earliest days, when the children of the storm braved the elements and many enemies to protect the republic's maritime interests whenever and wherever they were threatened.

 



1. Army and Navy Chronicle, 27 June 1839, new series, vol. 8, no. 26 (27 June 1839): 403.

2. Samuel R. Franklin, Memories of a Rear-Admiral. . . (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1898), p. 34.

3. Benjamin F. Stevens, A Cruise on the Constitution: Around the World in Old Ironsides, 1844-1847, Reprinted from The United Service Magazine (New York: n.p., 1904), pp. 41-42. For a statistical analysis that yields a similar percentage of foreign U.S. sailors, see Christopher McKee, "Foreign Seamen in the United States Navy: A Census of 1808," William and Mary Quarterly 3d ser., 42 (July, 1985): pp. 383-93.

4. Harold D. Langley, Social Reform in the United States Navy, 1798-1862 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1967), pp. 38-39, 89-92.

5. Charles G. Ridgely Papers, Naval Historical Foundation Collection; Library of Congress.

6. Charles Morris, The Autobiography of Commodore Charles Morris, U.S. Navy (1880; repr., Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002), p. 65. On skilled labor in United States, see Nathaniel Ames, A Mariner's Sketches (Providence, RI: Cory, Marshall and Hammond, 1830), p. 255.

7. Edward W. Taylor, Pacific Ocean Campaign, 1842-1844: Journal of a Cruise in the U.S. Frigate United States. . . ., edited by Mary K. Rose and L. Stuart Taylor (Vancouver, WA: Rose Wind Press, 2004), p. 1.

8. Harry Rivers, Maritime Scraps, or Scenes in the Frigate United States during a Cruise in the Mediterranean (Boston: n.p., 1838), p. 9.

9. Enoch Wines, Two Years and a Half in the American Navy. . . on Board the U.S. Frigate Constellation, in the Years 1829, 1830, and 1831, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Carey and Lea, 1832), 1:27.

10. Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. . . ., 6 vols. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1939-44) 4:219.

11. Moses Smith, Old Ironsides and Old Adams: Stray Leaves from the Log Book of a Man-of-War's Man, edited by Charles W. Denison (Boston: W. W. Page, 1846), p. 9.

12. For examples see, Charles R. Anderson, ed., Journal of a Cruise to the Pacific Ocean, 1842-1844, in the Frigate United States . . . . (1937; repr., New York, AMS Press, 1966), p. 41; and Henry G. Thomas, Around the World in Old Ironsides: The Voyage of USS Constitution, 1844-1846, edited by Alan B. Flanders (Lively, VA: Brandylane Publishers, 1993), pp. 12, 32-33, 79, 120.

13. Amos A. Evans, Journal Kept on Board the Frigate "Constitution," 1812. . . . (n.d.; repr., n.p.: Paul Clayton, 1928), p. 63.

14. Alonzo C. Jackson Journals, 24 July 1843, Library of Congress.

15. James F. Schenck, 23 August 1832, "Journal of a Mediterranean Cruise, July 3, 1832 to December 12, 1833," Transcribed by Walter M. Ousey, Unpublished manuscript, Navy Department Libary.

16. Ames, Mariner's Sketches, p. 194.

17. Assheton Humphreys, The USS Constitution's Finest Fight, 1815: The Journal of Acting Chaplain Assheton Humphreys, U.S. Navy, edited by Tyrone G. Martin (Mount Pleasant, SC: Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, 2000), pp. 14-15.

18. Schenck, 1 August 1832, "Mediterranean Cruise."

19. George Jones, Sketches of Naval Life . . . in a Series of Letters from the Brandywine and Constitution Frigates, 2 vols. (New Haven: Hezekiah Howe, 1829), 1: 194.

20. Franklin, Memories, p. 26.

21. Ames, Mariner's Sketches, p. 235.

22. Jones, Sketches, 1: 194.

23. Niles' Weekly Register, 24 June 1815, pp. 289-90; and, Tyrone G. Martin, A Most Fortunate Ship: A Narrative History of Old Ironsides, rev. ed. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997), p. 255.

24. P. Stuyvesant Fish. A Midshipman and an Old Lady: Journal of a Cruise Made by P. Stuyvesant Fish, in the Years 1832 and 1833 (New York: Privately printed by Stuyvesant Fish, 1939), p. 24.

25. See Dudley W. Knox, Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France . . . . 7 vols. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1938-39), 6: 546; and, Knox, Barbary Wars, 2:387.

26. Harold D. Langley, "Women in a Warship, 1813," Naval Institute Proceedings 110 (January, 1984), pp. 124-25.

27. For contemporary descriptions see, Wines, Two Years, 1:67-68; Jones, Sketches, 1:104; Ames, Mariner's Sketches, p. 257; and Stevens, Cruise on Old Constitution, p. 41.

28. Henry Mercier, Life in a Man-of-War, or, Scenes in "Old Ironsides" during her Cruise in the Pacific (Philadelphia: Lydia H. Bailey, 1841), p. 118.

29. Ibid., pp. 129-30.

30. Rivers, Maritime Scraps, p. 30.

31. Franklin, Memories, p. 58.

32, Fish, Midshipman, p. 16

33. Schenck, 13 February 1833, "Mediterranean Cruise."

34. Charles E. Brodine, Jr., Michael J. Crawford, and Christine F. Hughes, Interpreting Old Ironsides: An Illustrated Guide to USS Constitution (Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center, 2007), p. 99.

35. John Cunningham, "John Cunningham's Journal," edited by L. G. Carr Laughton, Mariner's Mirror 9 (November, 1923): 335.

36. Ames, Mariner's Sketches, p. 196.

37. Smith, Old Ironsides, p. 21. See also p. 18 for another reference to American spirit.

38. Evans, Journal, p. 29.

39. Knox, Quasi-War, 2:4.

40. Anderson, Journal of a Cruise, p. 57.

41. Henry Wadsworth to Peleg Wadsworth, 28 February 1800, quoted in Christopher McKee, Edward Preble: A Naval Biography, 1761-1807 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1972), p. 79.

42. Edwin A. Sherman, The Life of the Late Rear-Admiral John Drake Sloat . . . . Oakland: CA: Carruth and Carruth, 1902), p. 25.

43. Knox, Barbary Wars, 1:584.

44. S. C. Lawrason, "Notes of the Epidemic Cholera, on board the U.S. Frigate Constellation, in the Harbor of Port Mahon, in September 1834," Maryland Medical and Surgical Journal 1 (July 1840): 281-85.

45. Jones, Sketches, 1: 91.

46. Such as speed under sail. United States Sailors claimed their frigate was faster than any warship in the world. For examples, see Franklin, Memories, p. 25, and also Philo White, Philo White's Narrative of a Cruize in the Pacific to South America and California on the U.S. Sloop-of-War "Dale," 1841-1843, edited by Charles L. Camp (Denver, CO: Old West Publishing Company, 1965), p. 49.

47. Thomas, Old Ironsides, p. 10.

48. Herman Melville, White Jacket, or, The World in a Man-of-War (1970; repr., Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988), p. 17.

Mr. Brodine is a historian with the Naval History & Heritage Command and associate editor of the Command's series The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History. He is also a coauthor of Interpreting Old Ironsides: An Illustrated Guide to the USS Constitution (Naval Historical Center, 2007) and Against All Odds: U.S. Sailors in the War of 1812 (Naval Historical Center, 2004).

 

 

 
 

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