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Old 17-12-2010, 14:06   #1
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Drink Like a Sailor

LITTLE KNOWN TIDBIT OF NAVAL HISTORY





The U. S. S.. Constitution (Old Iron sides), as a combat vessel, carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (i.e. fresh water distillers).

However, let it be noted that according to her ship's log, "On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum .."
Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping."


Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum.
Then she headed for the Azores , arriving there 12 November.. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine .
On 18 November, she set sail for England . In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard each.

By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, although unarmed she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland . Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home.

The U. S. S. Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February 1799, with no cannon shot, no food, no powder,no rum , no wine , no whiskey , and 38,600 gallons of water.
GO NAVY!

Undoubtedly where the expression " Drinks like a sailor " comes from....
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Old 17-12-2010, 14:09   #2
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The amazing fact is that the American sailors were virtual teetotalers compared with the British, who still serve alcohol on their ships, unlike their dry counterparts in the USN.
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Old 17-12-2010, 14:21   #3
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Seems to me that learning to sail is much easier with lots of dry land training on the "tilt".
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Old 17-12-2010, 15:56   #4
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Can this be true

So from January 26th to February 20th, 25 days, 475 men drank 40,000 gallons of Scotch? That is 1600 gallons per day or 3 1/3 gallons per man. They sure could hold their whiskey.
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Old 17-12-2010, 16:07   #5
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My math says, not counting the booze pillaged from the 12 ships scuttled, they were at sea for about 210 days and consumed an avg per man of 2.52 gals per day. Hard to believe. Maybe they were using it to fuel lanterns and stoves.
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Old 17-12-2010, 16:25   #6
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You also have to wonder why the Constitution would be mixing it up with the British navy in 1799. Catch them by surprise?
The Revolutionary War was over in 1783. The War of 1812 didn't start until...

Michael
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Old 17-12-2010, 16:43   #7
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You also have to wonder why the Constitution would be mixing it up with the British navy in 1799. Catch them by surprise?
The Revolutionary War was over in 1783. The War of 1812 didn't start until...

Michael
...they had enough of a howling good drunk to get the war into full swing!
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Old 17-12-2010, 16:44   #8
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a bit of fact checking needed here

First, although the Constitution was indeed sailing in 1798, at that time she participated in the Quasi-war with France. Her assignment was to patrol for armed French ships between Cape Henry and Florida. After that she participated in the Barbary Wars. She would not see action against the English until the War of 1812.

Some of those tankage figures are a bit suspect. 48,600 gallons of fresh water? That would weigh over 200 tons! By the time she'd taken aboard all her armaments, shot, and other provisions, she'd have hardly been fit for battle.
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Old 17-12-2010, 16:46   #9
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A couple of points. First, the grog issue to the British Navy was totally discontinued in 1970 although even before then the various temperance organizations succeeded in having it diminished.

Second, the officers and men of those days preferred the spirit issue to the water if only because the water, stored in wooden casks, became extremely foul in a fairly short period of time. If someone gave me a tankard of dark green swamp water that stank like something died in it, I too would want to dilute it with rum or anything else that came to mind. I've seen what happens in my own water tank after a while when I did not chlorinate - they didn't have chlorine and wouldn't have known to use it either.

It was a fascinating period but I am more than content to read about and study it instead of participate in it.

Rich
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Old 17-12-2010, 16:55   #10
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Then she headed for the Azores , arriving there 12 November.. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine .
Okay, let's talk about this 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

The largest tanker trucks you'll see on the highways can hold 9,000 gallons of liquid. So, to transport 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine on a modern highway, you'd need to fill 7 tanker trucks, and would still have enough wine left over to give the entire crew of the USS Constitution alcohol poisoning.
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Old 17-12-2010, 16:59   #11
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Bash,

The amount of stores and weights carried by a ship of the line were staggering. The water allowance was one gallon of water per man per day. Most of that went to the cook's tubs where they would boil up the salt pork, salt beef, etc. The men were lucky to get a pint a day for personal use. But lets start there. Four hundred seventy men including officers (their ration was the same), using 30 days per month, which is a bit excessive because they used the lunar month (approx 29 days) rather than the calendar month. That works out to 14,250 gallons/mo. Six months at sea without resupply then yields, 85,500 gallons. Since that water would be foul after even a month or two, it would appear that they made up the difference with spirits.

It is fascinating to see what they crammed into those hulls let alone the weight and quantity of rigging, sails, artillery, powder and shot. No wonder a ship of the line had a draft of 20-30 feet.

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Old 17-12-2010, 17:03   #12
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the grog issue to the British Navy was totally discontinued in 1970
Right, but they still serve alcohol on board. In the American navy we only get a beer (2 actually) after 60 days underway without a port call.
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Old 17-12-2010, 17:08   #13
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All I can say is there must have been a lot of officers on board.
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Old 17-12-2010, 17:24   #14
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Bash,

The amount of stores and weights carried by a ship of the line were staggering. The water allowance was one gallon of water per man per day. Most of that went to the cook's tubs where they would boil up the salt pork, salt beef, etc. The men were lucky to get a pint a day for personal use. But lets start there. Four hundred seventy men including officers (their ration was the same), using 30 days per month, which is a bit excessive because they used the lunar month (approx 29 days) rather than the calendar month. That works out to 14,250 gallons/mo. Six months at sea without resupply then yields, 85,500 gallons. Since that water would be foul after even a month or two, it would appear that they made up the difference with spirits.

It is fascinating to see what they crammed into those hulls let alone the weight and quantity of rigging, sails, artillery, powder and shot. No wonder a ship of the line had a draft of 20-30 feet.

Rich
I understand that these ships could carry a great deal. The total tonnage of the USS Constitution was 1,576. (Don't confuse this with displacement. The tonnage is how much she can carry. Her displacement was 2,200 tons, but her tonnage was only 72% of that.) Now, if you take the original figures we were given for water, rum, black powder and shot (I'm figuring her shot at 24 lbs per round) you have a total tonnage of 1,251. That doesn't count food, gear, the weight of 44 cannons, or the weight of 450 crew. And now you want to add 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine?

The math just isn't working there.
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Old 17-12-2010, 17:49   #15
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This is an excerpt from the USS Constitution Museum website.

Feeding a Frigate

By Commander Tyrone G. Martin, U. S. Navy (Retired)

When the U. S. Navy was established in 1794, there were no ships, no crews, and, until 1798, by which time there were both, only an overworked Secretary of War who oversaw the administration of both the Army and Navy. To simplify the problem of determining the amount of food needed for the ships' crews and its cost, and borrowing from the British Admiralty, it was decided to legislate a specific diet to be served each man each day of the week, regardless of the size of the ship or where she was serving. Commanding officers were expected to adhere to the "menu" and not to deviate from it without documenting the reason. Substitutes for foodstuffs found to be unfit were, of course, permitted. Captains, too, were authorized to buy fresh foods when they were in port, as long as they stayed within monetary allowances, but without refrigeration such items would not be in the diet for long. As originally provided, the legislated "menu," which was valued at twenty-eight cents per ration per day, was as follows:

Every day: 1 lb. hard bread, and 1/2 pt. "spirits" or 1 quart beer.

Sunday: 1 1/2 lbs. salt beef, and 1/2 pt. rice.

Monday: 1 lb. salt pork, 1/2 pt. peas or beans, and 1/4 lb. cheese.

Tuesday: 1 1/2 lbs. salt beef and 1 lb. potatoes or turnips.

Wednesday: 1/2 pt. rice, 1/4 lb. cheese, and 2 oz. butter or molasses or 6 oz. of oil.

Thursday: 1 lb. salt pork and 1/2 pt. peas or beans.

Friday: 1 lb. salt fish, 1 lb. potatoes or turnips, and 2 oz. of butter or molasses or 6 oz. of oil.

Saturday: 1 lb. salt pork, 1/2 pt. peas or beans, and 1/4 lb. cheese.

As unsavory as this diet may seem to you today, in terms of those times, it probably was much better than most of the men would have been able to provide for themselves ashore, and at more than three thousand calories a day furnished the nourishment needed to sustain men engaged in very hard labor.

Three years after establishing this "ration," the Congress made some adjustments in it. The pork and beef allowances were reduced to 1 lb., those for potatoes and turnips increased to 1 lb. and for molasses to 6 oz. New to the ration were 1 lb. of "pudding" on Tuesdays and 2 oz. of butter or 4 oz. of oil on Fridays. Four years later, the Congress reduced the ration to the point where it cost but twenty cents per ration per day, but it went back up to the former amount again in 1806, where it remained until 1842, when the value rose to thirty cents per ration per day.

The 1842 Act continued most of the basic foodstuffs noted above. Its importance rests with the fact that it dropped the specific daily "menu," leaving only daily or weekly allowances, and furthermore, it provided a range of "substitutive items," reflecting the broader range of goods then available. New to the ration were such things as raisins and other dried fruits, pickles, cranberries, and coffee and cocoa. (Tea had been added in 1818, but never proved popular with the jacktars. Coffee became a primary, rather than a substitutive, item in 1862.)

No further changes were made in the ration until after Constitution left regular service in 1855.

One item in the ration of interest to everyone is the "spirit ration." Inherited from the British Royal Navy was the custom of serving spirits to the crew twice a day. Since the 1740s, the usual spirit had been rum mixed with an equal amount of water to prevent the sailors from saving up their "tots" for drinking binges. (Water caused the rum of the day to become unpalatable in a short time.) This rum and water mixture was called "grog," from the nickname of Rear Admiral Edward "Old Grog" Vernon, who concocted the mix.

The new U. S. Navy began by following this same custom. Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith, who came into office in 1801, tried substituting American-made whiskey -- sour mash bourbon -- for the West Indies rum, and found the sailors favored it. By the War of 1812, American "grog" was bourbon and water. The usual practice was to serve one-half of the daily ration after dinner at noon and the remainder after supper, around 4 in the afternoon. On each occasion, the Purser and his mates kept careful record of each man's ration. Those who passed it up were credited with four cents on their account; those who attempted a second "tot" most often were flogged (whipped) the next morning.

One begins to understand the enormity of the feeding problem faced by the Secretary of the Navy in 1798 when one takes the ration provided per man per week and works it out, for example, for a single frigate with a crew of four hundred officers and men. In one year there had to be provided some 310 barrels of salt beef, the same quantity of salt pork, 1220 gallons of molasses, 15840 pounds of rice, 1930 pounds of butter, 1500 pounds of cheese, 1730 of vinegar, 240 bushels of dried beans, 53 barrels of flour, 49 barrels of Indian meal, over 56 tons of hard bread, 19470 pounds of salt fish, 730 bushels of potatoes, and 8650 gallons of rum!
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