"Journal of A Cruise in the United States Frigate Constitution
D. Turner, Esq. Commander, bearing the flag of Commodore A. Claxton"
by anonymous [Lieutenant William Henry Kennon], Norfolk: C. Hall, n. d.



U. S. Frigate Constitution off the Gosport Navy Yard February 1st, 1839.  Well here I am once more on board a man of War, ready, willing; & able to do my duty‑‑  We have only received a part of our crew‑‑  We are getting ready for sea as fast as possible.


    April 9th 1839.  We get under way this morning from our Anchorage off the Navy Hospital with a fair wind which lasted us as far as Hampton Roads.  The wind came out directly ahead off old Point Comfort & we beat the old ship out to sea ‑ & part of the time against a strong flood tide ‑ & at 2 PM discharged the Pilot‑‑  I have been in the Navy twenty three years, & this is the first Man of War that I have ever known or heard of ‑ that went to sea from her anchorage of[f] the Naval Hospital at Norfolk without stop[p]ing either in the bitte [sic: bight] of Craney Island, Hampton Roads ‑ or Lynheaven [sic: Lynnhaven] Bay‑‑


    New York April 20th 1839.,  We anchored here this morning after a passage of eleven days, & ten days out of the eleven we had an old fashioned regular built gale of wind, the good old ship behaved as well as she could behave, considering she has the figure head of that old wretch Andrew Jackson on her cut water ‑ her mast I mean her lower mast (were put into her by the same officer Jesse D. Elliot [sic], who put his masters Figure Head on her) & they are entirely too large & will I fear, before we double Cape Horn distress her very much, if they do not wrack [sic] her to pieces poor old ship ‑ how shamefull [sic] it is that your country should ever have allowed you to have been so disgraced, by old Jackson on your gallant bow & Elliot [sic] to Command you.


    New York May 20th 1839.,  At day light got under way and stood to sea, with U. S. Brig Washington Lieut. Gedney Commander, in company.  we [sic] had a [?] Pilot on board and he took the ship through Gedney's channel drawing 23 feet 8 inches‑‑  Our pilot Wm Norris, is the only Pilot out of New York that has ever taking [sic] a vessel of this size through this channel‑‑  It was discovered last summer by Lt. Thomas Gedney of the Navy & will be of very great advantage to the Commerce of New York


    June 1st 1839 off the Caucus [sic: Caicos] passage eleven days out we fell in with & spoke the American Brig ______________ bound to New York ‑ sent a boat on board of her with letters from [sic] our Wives, sweet hearts, & friends.


    Caribean [sic] Sea June 5th 1839.  During our run through the Caucus passage we had very squally weather & light baffling winds, & rainy disagreeable weather‑‑


     Vera Cruz June 17th 1839.,  We anchored here this morning after a passage of 28 days from New York June 17th landed our minister (Judge Ellis) under a salute with the yards manned.  He was accompanied on shore by the Commodore, four Lieuts & three boats.  The Mexican Government received with very great distinction ‑ salutes ‑ military on the warf [sic], with the Governor ‑ (Giaudelupe [sic] Victoria at the head ‑ to receive him, & conducted to apartments prepared for him by The Mexican Government‑‑ So much for our minister‑‑


    June 20th 1839 ‑ Got underway from the Island of Sacrificios ‑ made sail, and stood out to sea‑‑  Weather very squally ‑ & very disagreeable, we found several vessels at Vera Cruz being bound to the United States‑‑  I wrote to my wife by all of them ‑ & to some of my relatives & friends‑‑


    When we left New York, we were told, & led to believe by the commodore that we would go to Pensacola‑‑  Consequently we all gave directions to our friends before we left New York ‑ to write and direct our letters to Pensacola ‑ but to our very great disappointment all of a sudden ‑ the Commodore changed his mind and orders our worthy Captain to steer for the Havannah‑‑  I do not think that I was ever more disappointed & vexed in all my life‑‑


    Havannah July 3rd 1839.,  We anchored here this morning after a very hot, rainy disagreeable passage of 13 days from Vera Cruz‑‑  Saluted the [?] Spanish Admiral &c &c.  At 2 PM commenced filling up our Water with Tanks that were sent off to us by the American Counsul [sic], & receiving wood and live beeves for the crew.


    July 5th 1839.,  We finished getting on board all the supplies we stood in need of last night.  At sundown (our Worthy Chaplain, Mr. Wilmer left the ship to return to the United States in a merchantman) ‑ God bless him I hope that he will have a pleasant passage & that I may never again see him on board a man of War.  If he had stayed here I should, I have not the least doubt, but that I should have converted him.  He has certainly learned more since he has been in this ship than he ever knew before ‑ & I have not the least doubt, that if I could have kept him under my tuition a little longer, that the whole Episcopal Church with one consent, would not only have him made Bishop of a State ‑ But that they (I of course mean the members of the Church) would have made him Commander in Chief of the religious flock in the United States‑‑


    July 9th  This day three months ago I left my Wife in Norfolk ‑ under the promise from Commodore Claxton that I should certainly visit her after our arrival in New York‑‑  I asked for permission to go home from New York but ‑ but my important services on board this ship could not be dispenced [sic] with ‑ So I had to make up my mind to quite [sic] the Country for three years without taking leave of my Wife‑‑  When a man can make up his mind to bear a seperation [sic] from his wife for three years ‑ He  can make up his mind to do any thing ‑ & face the Devil without winking‑‑


    Thank God we are at last clear of the Gulf of Florida, & the disagreeable West Indies‑‑  We cleared the Gulf after a drift, for the current took the ship through the most dangerous & disagreeable passage‑‑  We found the current to vary very much in its strength from 1 1/2 to 4 knots per hour‑‑  We kept in mid Channel all the way from the Havannah until we got to the Latitude of 29 North & Longitude of 79 W.  We then for the 1st time had a fair wind & steered N.N.E. seven vessels in sight.  The old ship leaving them all with very great ease‑‑  A French man of war Brig ‑ who seemed, as we passed her that she was at a Anchor ‑ so much for Old Iron Sides.


    July 9th 1839 ‑ We hauled the ship up to de[?] the Florida Coast.  It is now nearly sun down I will therefore go up on deck & take one more look at the coast of the United States & then take a long farewell of our beloved Country ‑ & bid my native land good night‑‑  We are now at last farely [soc] off for our station, the far distant Pacific ‑ with the certainty of not hearing from home before the middle of December or 1st of January 1840‑‑  Is not that alone enough to run a man mad‑‑  If the is truth in man, I would this moment give my left arm to see my Wife but I have shiped [sic] for the Cruize [sic], & I will see it out if it kills me.  I have never yet left a Ship in a foreign station & I will not leave this one unless I hear of my Wife being sick ‑ & then I would sacrifice all & quite [sic] creation to be with her ‑ for this world to me without her would be a perfect blank‑‑  But what must be must, all men must have a trade‑‑  The Navy I have selected as mine, & I must stick to it cost what it will‑‑


    August 1st 1839.,  From the 9th of July up to this time I have not seen a single strange soul altho we have run nearly three thousand miles we passed the Cape De Virde [sic] Islands yesterday & if the NE Trade wind which we now have continues as fresh as we now have it, we shall cross the Equinoctial line in six days and possible get to Rio De Janeiro by the 1st of September.  We have that to contend with the calms between the N.E. & the S.E. Trade Winds ‑ & have passed them without the least detention‑‑  In the Frigate United States commanded by Commodore Isaac Harell [sic: Isaac Hull] in 1824 We went out of the N.E. Trade directly into the S.E. Trade without losing the breezes at all‑‑  We were on that occasion very fortunate & consequently made the shortest passage from the United States to Rio De Janeiro that is on record.  We were 32 days from Hampton Roads to Rio De Janeiro ‑ & 37 days from Rio De Janeiro to Valparaiso ‑ & 67 days from anchorage to anchorage from Norfolk to Valparaiso‑‑  there never was & I doubt very much whether we will ever again hear of another to equal it‑‑  this then is an exceedingly fast  ship & there is no tell [sic] yet what she may do.  I have never yet seen her go more than 12.4 knots per hour ‑ & I have seen the United States go 13.6 knots‑‑


    On the 18th of last month we passed the Capes of Virginia on our return from Vera Cruize [sic] after landing our Minister (Judge Ellis) Great God what I would not have giving [sic] to have stoped [sic] there for a few days, just longer [sic] enough to have seen my Wife, & we might have done so without the least inconvenience or detention.  Filled up our water & provisions [?] received letters from our friends & then have been ready for the severest passage.



Note: Kennon was Second Lieutenant in CONSTITUTION during her cruise as Pacific Squadron flagship (1839‑41).  The journal ends at this point.