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Old 11-07-2011, 15:24   #16
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

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Madison's War, you mean. Seem to remember a little embarassment with the burning of the White House. We had a few victories, also a defeat or two, in single ship encounters among Frigates and Jackson's victory after the war was over. Other than that, it was an unnecessary war that did nothing but add to the national debt.
The American war of 1812 was really just a side show without any good purpose excepting for the US which reaffirmed its sovereignty and independence of Great Britain. Great Britain's most import aim at the time had been defeating Napoleon.
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Old 11-07-2011, 17:33   #17
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

Constitution...that's my girl. I went through the chief's initiaition cruise on her in 06...

She looks alot better with her bulwarks lowered to 1812 height...those tall bulwarks ruined her lines...better when getting shot at though, I would imagine.
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Old 11-07-2011, 20:03   #18
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

I would recommend Ian Toll's Book "Six Frigates" which tells the story of the design and construction of the Constitution and her sister ships.
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Old 11-07-2011, 20:27   #19
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Heh...it is in my bookshelf...read part of it...will get back to it...funny, I have sailed in usns joshua humphries, uss thorn, and john lenthall....all having ties to old ironsides...
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:11   #20
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Did the Constitution ever see battle? Whilst doing some shipwright work on her I was told she was terrible to sail to windward, any truth in that?
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:26   #21
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

I agree with Curmugeon - Ian Toll's Book "Six Frigates" is a great read.

Here is part of a report about the Constitution's engagement with HMS Java:

After The Enemy had struck, wore Ship and reefed the Top Sails, hoisted out one of the only two remaining boats we had left out of 8 & sent Lieut [George] Parker 1st of the Constitution on board to take possession of her, which was done about 6. P.M, The Action continued from the commencement to the end of the Fire, 1 H 55 m our sails and Rigging were shot very much, and some of our spars injured-had 9 men Killed and 26 wounded. At 7 PM. The boat returned from the Prize with Lieut. [Henry D.] Chads the 1st of the enemies Frigate (which I then learnt was the Java rated 38 - had 49 Guns mounted--)-and Lieut Genl [Thomas] Hislop-appointed to Command in the East Indies,-Major Walker and Capt Wood, belonging to his Staff. -Capt [Henry] Lambert of the Java was too dangerously wounded to be removed immediately.

The Cutter returned on board the Prize for Prisoners, and brought Capt [John] Marshall, Master & Commander of The British Navy, who was passenger on board, as also Several other Naval officers destined for ships in the East Indies. The Java had her whole number complete and nearly an hundred supernumeraries. The number she had on board at the commencement of the Action, The officers have not candour to say; from the different papers we collected, such as a muster book, Watch List and quarter Bills, she must have had upwards of 400 souls, she had one more man stationed at each of her Guns on both Decks than what we had The Enemy had 83 wounded & 57 Kill'd.
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:27   #22
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

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Originally Posted by bazzer View Post
Did the Constitution ever see battle? Whilst doing some shipwright work on her I was told she was terrible to sail to windward, any truth in that?
USS Constitution's Battle Record
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:17   #23
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

The Constitution and her sister ships were square rigged ships. These ships, actually any square rigged ship, couldn't sail more than about 75 degrees to the relative wind. They were optimized for performance off the wind which was the fastest way to make long passages. More weatherly schooners, ketches, etc. with fore and aft rigs were much better at sailing close to the wind but had limited cargo carrying ability because their hull designs was also optimised for weatherly sailing. Schooners, etc were used for mainly coastal traffic. The Constitution Class Frigates had the limits of Square Rigged ship sailing characteristics but were supposedly at the top of the sailing performance limits of their rig.

The Constitution class were a type of heavy frigate that were way better sailors than the multi decked ships of the line and most other ships of the time. Frigates were used for blockade, scouting, patrols, carrying messages, supplies and people between the larger ships, convoy duty, interdiction of enemy supply ships and convoys, and most importantly on independent solo missions. They relied on their speed and greater maneuverability to avoid the heavily gunned enemy ships of the line but sought out ships of their equal. Kind of like the Destroyers of the naval fleets of the last century that relied on speed rather than armor and armament. These new, at the time, American Frigates were more heavily gunned and better sailing designs than most of the comparable British Frigates. In short, better ships because of Yankee ingenuity and economic constraints.

Many of the Constitution class frigates saw action in Monroe's War. With one exception, IIRC, they were victorious against their more experienced British adversaries though the engagements were limited in number. Our Navy really caused the British concern because we seriously disrupted their commercial traffic from the Carribean which was the most economically lucrative at the time. Our small fleet was no match for the British Navy with it's many many more frigates and way bigger 'Ships of the Line'. Fortunately, we had Napoleon to keep most of the Brits attention focused elsewhere. The Brits could have easily crippled the US economy with a blockade of every American port if they hadn't been otherwise occupied.
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Old 12-07-2011, 13:37   #24
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

The Constitution and Josiah Humphrey's other frigates were built of live oak. This is a tree native to the Southeastern U.S. It is much harder than mahogany or teak and more resistant to rot from salt water. The shipwrights hated it because it was so difficult to work. The Australian wood Jarrah is similar, although not as hard.

The live oak construction one reason why the ship was called "Old Ironsides" and why it is still floating today.

Humphrey's frigates also had a "spar deck" above the main deck that was capable of carrying guns. The spar deck was an integral part of the design. So the American ships carried more guns (and heavier guns) than the typical British frigate and had scantlings that were as strong as those in a typical ship of the line. Smaller british frigates like the Guerriere and the Java stood little chance against the Constitution.
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Old 12-07-2011, 13:45   #25
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

Usual frigate main battery gun was a 12-pdr, that is it fired a 12-lbs shot. The big American frigates carried 24-pdrs making them almost as powerful as one of the lesser ships-of-the-line.
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Old 12-07-2011, 14:00   #26
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Of course she did...
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Constitution
She has an extremely distinguished war record..
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Old 13-07-2011, 16:01   #27
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Re: USS Constitution Underway - 4 July 2011

For the record, the War of 1812 was fought over the issue of impressment of American seamen by the British Navy. British captains were constantly short of crew given the expansion of the British navy during the Napoleonic wars. The press gangs in England and Canada were producing landsmen, convicts and the like. It was much easier to stop an American ship at sea and force 5-6 able seamen into the British service at gunpoint.

If I were a British captain whose professional reputation and very life might depend on having an adequate crew, I would probably have done the same thing.

I'm not so sure it was an "unnecessary" war. For one thing, if there had been no War of 1812, there probably would have been no Monroe Doctrine.
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