Note: USS CONSTITUTION Muster and Pay Rolls, reproduced on Rolls 90 through 96 of this series, have been omitted.


Roll 14 (Muster and Pay Rolls, Chatthoochee - Franklin)


Pay Roll of Men transferred from the Portsmouth Station per Gun Boat 88 to the U. S. Frigate Constitution




William Thompson



30 Aug 1812



John Simmerline



30 Aug 1812



John B. Ridley



30 Aug 1812



Reuben Sanderline



30 Aug 1812



Pay Roll of Men transferred from the Portsmouth Station per Gun Boat 86 to U. S. Frigate Constitution



Darius Gates



8 Oct 1812



Phillip Cartwright



8 Oct 1812



Christian Fredrigs



8 Oct 1812



Robert Harman



8 Oct 1812



Roll 453 (Secretary of the Navy's Private Letter Book, 1 Feb 1813 ‑ 26 Mar 1822 and 2‑20 Jan 1840)


To Captain James Lawrence, New York, NY, 6 May 1813:


        "My last, of the 4th instant, will have informed you of my intention to have ordered you to the command of the Constitution without reservation, and the enclosed copy of a letter, this moment received, after I had sealed the cover of the enclosed letter to Captain Evans, will explain to you the cause of the indispensable change of that determination..."  [Lawrence ordered to succeed Evans in CHESAPEAKE instead.]


To Captain William Bainbridge, Boston Navy Yard, 16 Jun 1813:


        "...Lieutenant [John O.] Creighton...has been ordered to the Constitution [as 1st Lieut.], but if, on his arrival, he shall prefer the Siren, you will order him to take command of her..."


To Captain Charles Stewart, USS CONSTITUTION, 19 Sep 1813:


        "The United States Frigate Constitution under your command must ere this be nearly ready for Sea, and as it is desirable to take the first fair opportunity, after the Equinox to push into the open Ocean, you will by every means in your power accelerate her equipment and preparation for departure.

        "As the enemy appears to be correctly apprised of our intended operations, he will doubtless ascertain the precise period of your intended departure, and probably blockade or station a competent force near you.

        "It will be prudent therefore to put to sea only under circumstances of the most favorable nature to elude his vigilance and escape an unequal contest.

        "Should any attempt be made to allure you by a challenge to single combat, I am directed by the President to prohibit strictly the acceptance either directly or indirectly.

        "When you shall meet upon equal terms without premeditation with your Crew practised and disciplined, his confidence in your skill and gallantry is entire, and no apprehensions are entertained for the honor of the flag, and the safety of the precious Ship entrusted to your care.

        "Having cleared Boston Bay, you will cross the Florida Stream in the shortest possible direction and continuing to the SE passing well to windward of Barbadoes reach the coast of Cayenne as soon as possible.  From thence run down the coast of Surinam Berbice and Demerara along by Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada South of Guadeloup then between St. Croix and St. Thomas down the So. Side of Porto Rico through the mona [sic] passage into the open Ocean, following the track either of the Windward or Jamaica fleets, as you may acquire information, 'til you near the entrance of the British Channel, then South passing about 3 or 4 degrees West of Cape Finisterre along the Coast of Spain and Portugal, then pass in sight of Madeira and Teneriffe into the NE trade winds, thence down the Coast of Cayenne and the same route home in the Spring.‑‑  Pressing or shortening Sail and cruising at such points on the route as the chance of success ‑ season ‑ weather ‑ lapse of time and hazard of meeting a superior foe, may indicate.‑‑

        "After passing through the mona [sic] passage you may make your election to follow the route first prescribed or pass down the North Side of St. Domingo and Jamaica and through the Florida passage, sweeping the coast of Georgia and So. Carolina, touching off Savannah or Charleston for refreshments and intelligence, then into the track of the fleets as first mentioned.‑‑

        "These instructions are given with a strong desire that they may be adhered to, unless some unforeseen event or particular information you may derive in the course of your cruize [sic] shall in your judgement render a deviation indispensable, in which case you will exercise your discretion, and adhere as near to the Spirit and object of the instructions as may be. ‑‑

        "The British men of war on the Windward Island Station, invariably cruise either to windward of Barbadoes [sic], or between that Island, Antigua and St. Barts. and out to the northward, but never to the Southward ‑‑ this information is derived from unquestionable sources.

        "The transcripts of British Signals from those recently taken on board the enemy's Schooner Dominica, and sent to Commodore Bainbridge, may be of the most important service to you, particularly the Island Signals, though it will not be safe to remain long among the windward Islands, as the enemy's force is too formidable.  I have said you will return in the Spring, but this is upon the presumption that your wants will render it necessary.  Should you however be so fortunate as to obtain supplies from any quarter so as t o enable you to continue your cruise for any considerable length of time, you will prolong it accordingly, but if those supplies are partial and sufficient only for a short time, it will be well to return in march [sic] or April so as to revictual, and get out again before the mild Season shall admit of a close Blockade of our Harbours, and New York by the way of the Sound or Hook, will in all probability, be the safest  access.

        "The commerce of the Enemy is the most vulnerable point we can attack and its destruction the main object; and to this end all your efforts should be directed.  Therefore unless your prizes shall be very valuable and near a friendly Port, it will be imprudent and worse than useless to attempt to send them in.  The chances of recapture are excessively great, the Crew and the safety of the Ship under your command would be diminished & endangered as well as your own fame, and the national honour, by hazarding a battle after the reduction of your Officers and Crew by manning prizes.  In every point of view then it will be proper to destroy what you capture, except valuable and compact articles that may be trans shipped.  This system gives to one Ship the force of many and by granting to prisoners a Cartel as sufficient numbers accumulate, our Account on that head will be increased to our Credit, and not only facilitate the exchange, but ensure better treatment to our unfortunate Countrymen who are or may be captured by the Enemy.  It has been usual in our service when prisoners are liberated on parole, to take any engagement not to bear arms against the U States until duly exchanged.‑‑  This leaves them at liberty to serve against any other enemy of Great Britain, and by thus employing those we have paroled, without violating their engagement, an equal number who are not prisoners may be relieved from serving against that enemy, and may be employed against us.  You will therefore in the event of your liberating any prisoners on parole, take an obligation, that they 'shall not bear Arms or commit any act of hostility in the service of Great Britain until

duly exchanged.'  Should you have an opportunity of procuring succors or supplies abroad and can negotiate for the amount through our public Agents, or other persons, your Bills on the Department accompanied by advice thereof will be duly honored.‑‑

        "As free communications from abroad are very desirable, but very precarious; if you will adopt a Cypher and furnish the key before your departure, it will be duly attended to.‑‑

        "Be pleased to acknowledge the receipt of this, and state the expected period of your departure.

                        "I am very respectfully

PS.                     "Your Obedt. Servt.

    On the eve of your                "W Jones"

    departure direct your

    Purser to transmit a

    correct Muster Roll of the

    Officers and Crew.‑‑"


Circular letter Commodores John Rodgers, William Bainbridge, and Stephen Decatur, and Captains Charles Stewart, Isaac Hull, Charles Morris, Charles Gordon, Lewis Warrington, Charles G. Ridgely, John H. Dent, and Hugh G.  Campbell, 23 Nov 1813:


        "As the chances of the private Signals of the Navy of the United States, falling into the hands of the Enemy are greatly multiplied, by employing one Code of Signals with the same private key, in Vessels of every Class, both as it respects the risk of Capture, and possible want of due discretion, in any one Lieutenant Commandant.‑‑  It is deemed expedient to provide a simple distinction which shall be exclusively and inviolably confined to the knowledge and use of the Captains and Masters Commandants [sic] of the Navy of the United States, having such actual commands as shall require the knowledge and use thereof.

        "You will therefore consider the private Signals recently established and now in your possession, as the Code established for Lieutenants Commandant and that the same Signals with the constant Number increased by two thirds of itself, is that by which Captains and Masters Commandant are to be distinguished; so that if the Enemy should get possession of the Signals, he may be detected on the first display, by his ignorance of the higher constant Number.

        "Be pleased to acknowledge this immediately on its receipt, and communicate a Copy thereof to such Captains and Masters Commandant as may be within your Command with due caution.‑‑"


To Captain Charles Stewart, USS CONSTITUTION, 21 May 1814 [1st ltr of this date]:


        "The Court of enquiry into the causes of the premature return of the United States Ship Constitution under your command, has transmitted to this Department, the proceedings of said Court, with a statement of facts, and the opinion of the Court thereon, a Copy of which is herewith enclosed for your information.

        "It would have afforded me personal gratification, to have seen in these proceedings, a justification of the measures which you adopted in the preparation for and prosecution of that Cruize [sic]; but as the purity of your motives has never been questioned, although an injurious error in judgement is clearly established, no further proceedings will be had thereon, nor recollection of the case retained by this Department.‑‑

        "You will receive by the Mail which conveys this your Sailing orders and instructions, for the Cruize [sic] of the United States Ship Constitution under your Command.‑‑"


To Captain Charles Stewart, USS CONSTITUTION, 21 May 1814 [2nd ltr of this date]:


        "Presuming that the United States Ship Constitution under your command is again ready for Sea, you will take your departure as soon after the receipt of this, as the state of the winds and weather, and the position of the enemy may enable you, observing that the main object of your cruize [sic] renders it extremely important, to gain the position first designated on as early a day as possible.

        "With this view you will make as direct a course as may before Cape Race, passing to the Northward or Southward of Sable Island, as the winds and weather may admit, falling into the track of Vessels from Cape Race to the Gulph of St. Lawrence & Halifax as soon as possible.‑‑

        "Having passed in view (if convenient) of Cape Race, you will cross the Grand Bank clear of the fogs, and take a position near its eastern edge about the parallel of 47 North, where you will cruize until the 10th or 15th of July ‑‑  This is the track of the transport and ordnance store Ships, as well as of the private trade from Great Britain to Canada and Nova Scotia, and the usual season at which they pass this position, is from the 20th of May to the middle of July.‑‑  You will thus perceive Sir, the immense importance of this Stage of your Cruize [sic], and it is impossible to conceive a more important and grateful service to your Country, than the destruction of the ordnance store Ships, and the capture of Transports with Troops destined for the annoyance of our frontier.‑‑

        "There is undoubtedly a difficulty in disposing of the latter, as an attempt to conduct them to our Ports, would scarcely be crowned with success.‑‑  The principal object will be to delay and divert them from their course.‑‑  Perhaps to the Azores where they might be landed on parole, and the Ships together with all superfluous provisions and Stores destroyed.‑‑

        "This would lead them far from their destination, as to deprive the enemy of their services for the season at least.  In this event it would be well to retain the Staff & Commissioned Officers, as well to exchange against our own, as to increase the delay and embarrassment of the troops in pursuing their original destination.‑‑  These considerations must be governed by circumstances under the exercise of your best judgement.  It is said that an unusual number of Ships laden with British manufactures, are destined for Quebec and Halifax this season, and will probably sail in the same fleets with the public vessels.‑‑  When the period assigned to the first part of your enterprize [sic] has passed, You will take a position about 50 or 60 Leagues NW of Corvo and Flores, with a view to intercept the trade of the enemy homeward bound from the West Indies.‑‑  Here you may pass a fortnight or three Weeks, according to your prospects of success there in a direct course for the Shetland Islands, which point you may probably reach about the 25th August, to the eastward of and between them and the Orkneys, you may meet with the British fleet returning from Archangel.‑‑  Thence you will shape a course for the United States, in such route as in your judgement may best promote the objects of your cruize  [sic], regulating your progress according to the state of your supplies, and endeavouring to enter New York in preference to any other Port, if the state of the Blockade not render it impracticable.‑‑

        "The constant state of alarm and apprehension in which the enemy is kept by our Cruisers, public and private in the West Indies, and the extreme precautions which he has adopted in that quarter for the protection of his Commerce; however vexatious and expensive to him, it leaves but little prospect of success for our public Ships in that route, which you will therefore avoid on your return home.‑‑

        "The climate through which you will pass being moist and cool, will enable you to economize your water, and I hope such partial supplies of green fish and other provisions as you may chance to capture, will enable you to extend your Cruize [sic] until the boisterous Season shall favor your entry into a port of the United States.‑‑

        "You will consider the general instructions contained in my Letter to you of the 19th September last (with the exception of that which prescribes the route of and is distinctly applicable to your late Cruize [sic]) as comprizes within the instructions for the cruize [sic] herein designated.‑‑

        "With my best wishes for your personal welfare, and the honorable result of your cruize [sic]."


To Commodore Stephen Decatur, New York, NY, 17 Nov 1814:


        "On the 8th instant I asked you to communicate to me your ideas of a cruise for the United States Ship President, under your command.

        "I will now suggest to you that plan for which I think you would derive more honor and advantage and your Country more reputation than any other that has occurred to my mind after much reflection, aided by a pretty intimate knowledge of the navigation of those seas in which it is proposed to cruise, and of the trade resources and force of the enemy in that quarter.  I contemplate to place under your command the United States Ships President and Constitution, now ready for sea, and a smart schooner or brig to proceed without delay upon a cruise in the China and Java seas.

        "Captain Stewart might be instructed to proceed, with a possible dispatch, to the island of Tristan de Cunha [sic], where the squadron would rendezvous, replenish its water, and procure some refreshments; thence proceed for the Straits of Sunda, by the passage between Madagascar and the island of Bourbon, in the little or northwest monsoon season, which would greatly shorten your passage to the Straits of Sunda, through which you would pass, with a fresh northwester, keeping on the Sumatra side, and through the Straits of Gaspar [now Kelasa Strait], to Pulo Aore [east of Johore] and Pulo Condore [now Con Son]  (where you may procure refreshments) between which and the islands of Sapata and Pulo Cicer de Mere [Natuna Islands?], you would intercept all from and to China.

        "Here you would obtain information, by your frequent captures of country ships, of the time of the East India Company's fleet [sic] would sail from China, and of the force of the enemy in those seas, by which you would determine whether to continue cruising between the mouth of the Straits of Singapore, and along the south coast of Cochin China [Vietnam today], until the change of the monsoon, or to proceed through the China sea, along the coast of Cochin China to Macow [sic: Macao].

        "In the latter case, the enemy would take the alarm and your efforts might be reduced to a mere blockade; but in the position first mentioned, you could not fail to intercept nearly the whole of the immensely valuable trade of the enemy as well as that of the E. I. Company, as of the country trade.

        "For your information, I enclose a private letter, I have just received from Canton, which will convey to you some ideas of the importance of the object, and of the facility with which a great blow might have been, and still in all probability, may be struck, by the whole of the China fleet.  Were it not for the alarm it would give, at so early a period, you might look into Batavia Roads, on your way through the Java Sea, and capture everything there, which would probably be to an emmense [sic] amount, collected from the Molucens [sic: Moluccas] and elsewhere.

        "The coast of Cochin china is full of Harbours, where abundance of rice, sugar and refreshments of all kinds may be regularly obtained, together with cordage, masts, spars, naval stores, etc.  I have a manuscript translation of the hydrographic account of the Coast and Harbours of Cochin china, and of its trade and resources, by Monsieur D'Ayat who commanded a squadron in the service of the King of Cochin, China during five years.  This I shall have copied for you.

        "As it will be a cruise of time and vast importance, I have deemed it expedient, to give you previous notice, with a view to your personal convenience, but as I shall resign the office, which I have now the honor to hold, on the first of the ensuing month, you will please to signify to me, by return mail, whether the command will be acceptable to you, in order that I may make the necessary arrangements while I remain in office."


To Commodore Stephen Decatur, New York, NY, 23 Nov 1814:


        "In my letter of the 17th Inst communicating the project of a Cruise in the China Seas for the squadron under your command I proposed that the U. S. Ship Constitution Capt Stewart should join you at Tristan da Cunha but as the Hornet has fortunately reached New York I propose to substitute that vessel and Peacock in lieu of  the Constitution, which I believe in all respects will answer a better purpose and avoid the uncertainty of meeting at a distant rendezvous..."


To Captain Charles Stewart, USS CONSTITUTION, 29 Nov 1814:


        "The Season having arrived in which the Blockade of our Eastern Coast must of necessity be relaxed and the United States Ship Constitution under your command being in sufficient order and preparation for a cruise, you will put to Sea with the first favourable opportunity and shape your course to the eastward of Bermuda, taking a position calculated to intercept the transports and Store ships of the enemy from Europe destined to that Island, alternately between this position and the latitude 25 N in a direction from Bermuda to Antigua, you will cruize [sic] about three weeks, more or less, according to the prospects of advantage to be derived from a continuance on that ground, or from a change of position.

        "From thence you will proceed in the most favourable track to the vicinity of Cape Fanister [sic: Finisterre], and after cruizing a week or ten days about 25 to 30 leagues west of that Cape you will range along the coast of Spain & Portugal about the same distance under easy sail, until you reach Cape St. Vincent; off which you will cruize [sic] eight or ten days, thence to the vicinity of Madeira where you will cruize [sic] three or four weeks, with a view to intercept the British trade outward bound to the East or West Indies; regulating your stay upon this ground according to your prospects of success, and the state of your supplies, allowing a sufficiency to last you while retracing your steps along the Coast of Spain & Portugal, and thence to Lorient or Brest, where you may without delay replenish your water and provisions, and according to the information you may there obtain, proceed again upon a Cruize [sic] in the track of the British homeward bound West India trade, about 10 W of Ushant, and from thence in such route as in your judgement may promise the best success: continuing your cruize [sic] as long as your resources will admit and finally you shall be under the necessity of returning to the United States: you will endeavour to enter the port of New York in preference to any other.

        "Having on former occasions having waged a superior policy and advantage of destroying the captures you may make in preference to the hazardous attempt to send them in unless in the vicinity of a friendly port, and only in the case of very valuable and fleet sailing prizes,‑ I need not now dwell upon that subject.

        "Daily experience and the grievous complaints of the merchants of Great Britain sufficiently attest the efficacy of the system.  Should you touch at any friendly port for succours, you will observe the strictest economy and put to Sea again with the least possible delay ‑ the general instructions you have from time to time received from this Department, and your own experience will supercede the necessity of further details; and in the event of any casualty or occurrence which in your judgement may render a deviation from these instructions indispensable to the public interest, you will act accordingly; still adhering as near as may be, to their general spirit and intention.

        "You will please acknowledge the receipt of this and forward to the Department on the eve of your departure a correct Muster Roll of the Officers & Crew under your command."


To Captain Jacob Jones, USS CONSTITUTION, 24 Apr 1821:


        "You have been appointed to the command of the United States Frigate Constitution, to proceed to the Mediterranean, and report yourself on arrival to Commodore William Bainbridge, to assume the command of the United States Squadron, upon his departure to return to the United States, for which purpose you will please deliver to him the enclosed letter.

        "Commodore Bainbridge will furnish you with copies of instructions, relating to the service in that Sea, which he has received from this Department; and of all other papers, and information, which shall be necessary or important for you to possess, as his Successor, with a view to carry into effect the intentions of the Government of the United States, in relation to the Barbary and European Powers.

        "A rendezvous has been assigned for you at Port Mahon, for the 15th May next; when it was calculated the Ship might have sailed in time to fulfill that arrangement.

        "You will have under your command the Frigate Constitution, as Flag Ship, the Sloop Ontario and Brig Spark.‑‑  It will depend on circumstances, growing out of events which may take place, whether this force will be increased during your command.

        "Your attention will be directed to the protection of our commerce, and Citizens lawfully trading in those seas; and to the movements of the Barbary Powers in particular, so far as they may probably affect the interests of the United States and their Citizens.

        "You will visit Consul Shaler at Algiers, and the other Consuls at the Barbary Regencies, and communicate freely with them upon the state of affairs and govern yourself accordingly.

        "Should Arrangements, which are anticipated, be made with the Government of Spain, to permit the landing of Stores and provisions at Port Mahon, duty free, that place will become the Depot for the Squadron; which will lessen the expenditures abroad, and the expenses of negotiating Bills.

        "To keep up a regular supply from the United States,  it will become necessary for you to estimate, in advance, the probable wants of the Squadron, and make frequent returns to this Department of the quantity required.

        "For the pay of Officers and Men, and contingencies of the Squadron, you will make requisitions on Mr. Richard McCall, the Agent of the United States in the Mediterranean, who is authorized to draw upon the Bankers in London to the full amount now in their hands; and further remittances cannot now be made, except at great loss.  Should Mr. McCall exhaust his credit upon the Bankers, before additional remittances shall be made to them, he must draw, directly, upon the United States for the necessary funds.

        "In making your requisitions upon the Agent, or in drawing Bills on the Department, it is desirable to apportion the expenditures under the proper heads of Appropriation; you will therefore, be pleased to conform to this rule, to enable the Department to keep the Appropriations distinct, by charging the disbursements to their appropriate head.  I enclose to you, herewith, Blanks of expenditures as kept at this Office.

        "You will permit no repairs, or expenditures to be made, without your previous sanction and written orders.

        "I wish particularly to invite your attention to the strict discipline of the service, in order to avoid the expences attending Courts Martial, and lessen the evil consequences of Duelling, by the most rigid regulations.

        "To maintain the high reputation acquired by our Navy, while in foreign countries, great vigilance will be necessary, in taking care of the conduct of Officers and Men, when off duty, during their recreations, and intercourse with the Inhabitants whom you may visit; and also in paying, on all occasions, due respect to the constituted Authorities of all Nations.

        "Whatever events, or contingencies may require, will be further communicated to you..."


The Captain's Clerk
1989, TGM