"...I was an ordinary seaman on board the Revenue Cutter Hamilton and when in port and at anchor off Mays Wharf and in view of the Navy Yard at Charlestown, we could easily see what was going on there and when off duty I would with much interest watch the men at the Yard engaged in fitting out the Constitution Frigate...and while thus watching and thinking over the glorious record made by the Constitution during the war of 1812‑15 it occurred to me if I too couldn't serve on that famous ship and I determined to go on her on that cruise for which she was fitting out, if possible.


    "At that time Commodore John Downes was Commandant of the Navy Yard...


    "I spoke to the Captain of the Cutter Capt Girdler of Marble head and told him I wanted to ship on the Constitution and he took me in his boat to the Navy Yard and before Commodore Downes and told him who I was and that he was acquainted with my father in Marblehead and thus through him I procured from Commodore Downes an order to the shipping master (as the crews were shipped in that way in those days) to ship me as one of the crew of the Constitution.  This was I recollect somewhere in the Fall of 1835.


    "I received my pay and discharge from the Cutter and at once inlisted [sic] in the Navy of the U. S., to serve on board the U. S. Constitution for a term of three years or sooner discharged and joined the ship.


    "Andrew Jackson was President of the U. S., and the government was anticipating trouble with France as it was supposed the French government would refuse to pay the indemnification money in settlement of the so‑called French Spoilation Claims.


    "The ship was hurriedly fitted out, the officers assigned, crew shipped and put aboard, stores, ammunition etc taken in, then under command of Commodore Eliot we got under way as soon as possible, our destination being the coast of France to watch movements there and learn as soon as possible of any movement which might be made hostile to U. S. interests.


    "The Constitution was rated a 44 gun ship, mostly medium 32 pounders weighing about 3300 lbs. each with 32 pound carronades (pig handle, so‑called) on the quarter deck and having about 400 all told of officers and crew.


     "My position on board the ship was as one of the messenger boys (as I was but 15 years old I had to ship in the Navy as a boy) and I was Powder Boy of the 3rd devision [sic] on the main deck (that is the deck below the upper or spar deck).


    "There were twelve guns in this division, medium 32 pounders weighing about 3300 lbs, each six on each side of the ship.  When both batteries were manned, that is the guns on both sides of the ship, there were about 15 men and boys at each gun (the largest ones), the smaller ones the carronades requiring about 5 or 6 to man them.  The guns' crew (at the 32 pounders) were designated as 1st and 2nd Captains of gun, 1st and 2nd loaders, first and second spongers, first and second side tackle men, first and second train tackle men, 1st and 2nd hand spike men, 1st and 2nd wad and shot men with a powder boy or boys to each division.


    "For boarding an enemy's ship in action or repelling boarders from the enemy, the #1 men of the guns crews were designated as 1st boarders and the #2 men as 2nd boarders, part of them as #1 or #2 pikemen to handle the boarding pikes.  At the call for boarders the #1 boarders and #2 pikemen responded first, leaving the #2 men at the guns, at the command 'Away all boarders,' all went.


    "The ship was rated a 44 gun ship, but carried more than that number of guns about 50, if I remember right, (in the war of 1812, she carried from 52 to 54 guns).  When at quarters when but one battery (that is the guns on one side of the ship) was manned, all the men belonging to a gun, (that is the No. 1's and #2's) were at the gun.  When both batteries were manned the #1's of the gun crew remained at the starboard battery, the #2's going to the port battery.  The spar upper deck guns were divided into two divisions, the Forecastle division and the quarter deck division.  On the main deck (the next below the upper or spar deck) there were three divisions making five divisions of guns on the ship.


    "There was another division called the sixth or Master's division which was not stationed at the big guns consisting of sail trimmers, firemen (men to be on the lookout for and extinguish any fire that might occur on the ship in time of action).  Stopper men, whose duty it was in action to make such repairs as was necessary of any damage caused by the fire of the enemy to the standing or running rigging.  This division was also known as small arms men, that is they were drilled in the use of musket and in case of action when not otherwise employed were supposed to use their muskets on the enemy.


    "We had a Marine guard, soldiers of about 25, who were not attached to any of the divisions, but who in action were supposed to act as sharpshooters, under command of their own officers.


    "The boats of the ship were designated as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cutters, Launch and Dinghey [sic].  I will say here that on this ship but in no other in the Navy that ever I saw or heard of, she carried guns only on the Quarter Deck and Forecastle (that is in the foreward [sic] and after part of the ship) on the spar (upper) deck, there were no guns on that deck in the waist (or middle of the ship's sides) in the place of these she had what were called deep waist nettings for the hammocks, where they were stowed standing on end instead of as usual in other ships being laid out flat in the hammock nettings which extended from the quarter to the break of the forecastle, just forward of the forerigging, the whole length of the rail on both sides in those ships, except a clear space at both gangways.  This peculiarity can be seen in any true picture of the ship, in the ship herself, or in that complete model of her now and for years in Salem, Mass, Museum, which was presented to that institution by commodore Hull and which coming from that source must have been a correct copy of the ship.


    "On the main deck (that next below the upper or spar deck) were ports and guns all along both sides.  The figure head of the ship on this cruise was that celebrated one of the full length figure of General Jackson, carved in wood, from which the head was sawn one dark stormy night before this cruise, while a sentry was walking his beat right over it on the forecastle (as Naval History relates).  However the full and complete figurehead gilded and shining in the sunlight like gold went on this cruise with us.


    "We remained on the coast of France 5 or 6 months when we received orders to proceed up the Mediterranean.  We proceeded to Port Mahon on the island of Minorca where we refitted and revictualled.  Ship and crew were given general liberty.


    "At this place we enlisted several men as additions to the crew.  Also a boy of eleven years of age named Gabriel Col (pronounced as if written Koll)(Spanish) as cabin boy for Capt Burrage [sic: Boerum] and also to wait on the officers.  He is living now in Charlestown...  He is a naturalized citizen...


    "After leaving Port Mahon the ship went first to Marseilles, France and then proceeded where we took on board Secretary Cass and then proceeded from port to port in the Mediterranean, looking after U S interests, picking up curios, etc.  The last port as I recollect where we called was at Beyruit [sic], Syria, where an ancient sarcophagus was procured as a present for President Jackson who refused to accept it and which was afterwards sent to the Smithsonian Institute...where I saw it in 1891.


    "The latter part of our cruise was taken in the Mediterranean until we were ordered home and the line of battleship Ohio...took the place vacated by us.  We proceeded from there directly home to Norfolk, Va., nothing occurring out of the usual on the passage.  We arrived at Norfolk I think in August 1838 where we were paid off and discharged and the ship went out of commission and thus ended my cruise of about 3 years in the U S Frigate Constitution."


Note:  This excerpt is from the typescript of a much longer paper relating his entire Navy career written by Mr. Webber and dated 5 February 1900.  He wrote it in response to a request from Mrs. Caroline E. Wyman of Boston, who was Historian of the Massachusetts State Society United States Daughters of 1812.