JOURNAL OF CARPENTER HENRY G. THOMAS (1844‑6),
IN A PRIVATE COLLECTION
27 Mar 1844 [Wed] "...got the launch and spare topmast inboard..." - "...getting small boats fastened [sic]..."
30 Mar 1844 "...we have rushed the work done to prepare new gun carriages for our long guns as well as the carronades."
2 Apr 1844
[Tue] "We...built and placed
in position...10 new water tanks." - "the Captain grumbles as he has
not received his cook James Dusenger from the
11 Apr 1844 "Two of my men, Robert Keys and John Hatch returned from liberty. They were several hours late but gave their excuses as busy trying to gather articles for the Captain and officers quarters. They had the articles in hand, several ornate washstands, and several small sofas. The watch did not report them this time as their scavenging has become an art to them and a boon to the ship."
12 Apr 1844 Underway to anchorage from Norfolk Navy Yard at 1500 in tow of steamer ENGINEER.
Apr 1844 Got 7 apprentice boys from
Apr 1844 Captain's cook and 7 more
seamen received from
Apr 1844 "Around 4, the Captain
invited most of the officers and gentlemen onboard to his stateroom for a
social call. A light spirit was served
that some openly
disapproved of at this unnatural time of day.
He informed us that we would be picking up the family of Governor Henry
A. Wise of
"Towards midnight, we found ourselves in the middle of a gale. The rain began to blow across the deck, at times it never seemed to land but rather to go clear across ship and then over the side.
"...Even in the weather, Captain Percival inspected the crew regularly. Despite some grumblings in rank, waiting for inspection, it always seemed to reinsure [sic] the hearts of many how confident the Captain and other officers appeared in [sic] such occasions."
Apr 1844 1330 anchored off the Battery,
"...His [Henry Wise's] family seemed to take an instant liking to the vessel. The crew seemed slightly indisposed at the laughter and frivolity shown by the officers toward Mrs. Wise and daughter as they had been previously warned not to offend the family...
Percival was in an excellent mood as he had a long visit with his family in
"...The Captain had ordered a new galley to replace the old one...
"Most of the time on ship we have been trying to see that none of the many visitors we received will get hurt or lost. This has become somewhat of a nuisance as many ask and repeat again the same question, 'Is this the same old Constitution that won so much fame in the war?' The men have generally remained hospitable towards them and have tried to explain everything to them that is at all worth knowing."
25 May 1844 7 apprentices and more seamen received - Commodore Jacob Jones paid a visit - "Sailing on the Constitution is particularly exciting since there is always so much interest in our ship."
29 May 1844 Received 2 well‑made cutters, new‑built under the Carpenter's direction in the Navy Yard - 1130 underway in tow of HERCULES.
31 May 1844 "Many of the crew were allowed idle time onboard away from stations which doesn't come often, but was a very human act often done by Captain Percival to give the men a chance to air out their quarters." - "The Captain seemed in a particularly light mood this morning and joked openly about Clerk Stevens' inability to cope with the movement of sea and ships."
2 Jun 1844 [Sun] "Percival had the Marines practiced in boarding parties and the gunners were kept busy most of the day in target practice, one of my old cutters being used for that service. We also varied course according to 'textbook' situations to produce the sobering environment of an actual battle in progress. Sailors who made light of the situation were warned that such behavior in even a mock drill would be matched with severe punishment." - "...all the affairs of the day seemed to please the Captain. Percival was popular as the skipper of most vessels he had been attached to..."
16 Jun 1844 "...shipped a new main topmast crosstree..."
Jun 1844 0830 arrived at Fayal - Vice
20 Jun 1844 Underway in the morning.
24 Jun 1844 1440 Arrived at Funchal - Received 10 tons of water - HMS AMERICA present.
27 Jun 1844 James Corbett and William Ray each got 12 lashes for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.
28 Jun 1844 Underway.
1 Jul 1844 [Mon] "At 11:30, I was standing at the mid‑rail and gazing over the side. A splash in the water sounded like a Dolphin or small whale. I then noticed two arms waving as we passed. I yelled to those standing near the nearest life buoy. It was a long toss and the line felt very old and dry in my hand. Had the weather been bad, we would have lost the seaman, but we were once again fortunate that day as well. When we got him back onboard I discovered it was seaman James Corbitt [sic], who had been recently punished for drunkenness. He was known as a general trouble maker and had been known to have made many enemies onboard already. Some said it was probable that he had been deliberately pushed rather than fallen by accident. The Captain has ordered an inquiry into the matter..."
24 Jul 1844 Crossing the line ceremonies 6 barbers "...all who had never crossed the line were obliged to go through the ritual which varied according to the likes and dislikes of the crew. For a few of the younger men, the ritual seemed to be a bit more thorough. Captain Percival looked on with a bemused spirit in his eye." - Scattered pranks later on in the night.
Jul 1844 1700 met USS ERIE - 1750
Lieutenant Commandant Duke, captain of
3 Aug 1844 Arrived in Rio in the morning - Ships present: USS RARITAN (Commodore Turner), USS CONGRESS, HMS ALFRED (frigate), FNS BERCEAU corvette), FNS COQUETTE (corvette), Genoese frigate EURYDICE, Brazilian frigate CONSTITUCION, and a Portuguese war brig - 1600 Wise family disembarked.
5 Aug 1844
"It was a habit of Captain Percival to handle the minor discipline of
the crew just before any visit by the crew to a port.
17 Aug 1844 "Joseph Yeager and Joseph Sennett were punished with 12 lashes each for insolence to Midshipman Upshur of the U. S. Frigate Congress when they were on shore leave."
24 Aug 1844 "Captain Percival informed me today that a court‑martial had found guilty Midshipmen R. A. Knapp and A. F. Waring; they were detached and ordered to report aboard the U. S. Frigate United States to be returned to the United States... We have also had a desertion from a cutter going ashore; a seaman named George Smith fled our crew and no one has reported seeing him on shore."
1 Sep 1844 Acting Master Grant appointed Acting Lieutenant; Midshipman Strain, Acting Master. - (Strain reported aboard this date.])
8 Sep 1844 Underway at sunrise Once at sea, "Captain Percival called all hands to witness punishment of the crew who committed various offenses like smuggling liquor on board and drunkeness [sic] behavior. Quite a number of the nine men punished had also broken liberty and had gotten into trouble on shore." - Shotted the guns.
13 Sep 1844 0400 "...a very large meteor..."
19 Sep 1844 0900‑1100 gunnery practice; expended 84 round shot, 84 cartridges, and 168 wads.
23 Sep 1844 Boarded British bark LORD ELDON; Tristan d'Acunha in sight.
1 Oct 1844 1600 Spoke American whaler SALLY ANN of New Bedford.
3 Oct 1844 Ordinary Seaman Charles Crohon received 8 lashes of the colt for theft - 1215 Carried away the cross jack at both ends.
17 Oct 1844 At St. Augustine, Madagascar - The attire of Prince Green, a native: "...an old navy cap with a tarnished gold band, a pepper and salt frock coat, an extremely dirty shirt, formerly belonging to some officer, and a pair of sailors duck trousers rolled up to the knees, and a black gin bottle in his pocket. All of this we heard he obtained from the USS Concord and John Adams." John Green, the "Prince's" pilot, wore "an old tattered navy waistcoat, one epaulet, a sailor's hat, and various pieces of cotton... To crown the whole, he had an American eagle (brass) fastened onto his vest behind. He had only one eye..."
20 Oct 1844 0500 Underway - 1130 3rd cutter to brig HMS SAPPHO with Lieutenant Paine, who returned with British Captain for a 10‑minute visit.
Oct 1844 Arrived at
27 Oct 1844 "Before anyone left the ship, it was Captain Percival's idea that all punishments must be handed out... Joseph Sinnett [sic], seaman, was given many lashes of the colt for general disobedience and J. R. Heard was punished with 6 lashes of the colt for neglect of duty.
and lucrative trade is carried on between
29 Oct 1844 [At sea.] "Thomas Glaving and Thomas Williams were punished with 6 lashes of the colt each for skulking below in their watch."
30 Oct 1844 0730 Punished Lott [sic] Green, cockpit steward, with 12 lashes of the cat for stabbing Thomas Pusey.
1 Nov 1844
1700 Arrived at
2 Nov 1844 "Back of the town [of Majunga], there is an excuse of a fort. The greater part of the battery was entered as consisting of guns obtained from trading ships on the coast. They are all of old ages and various sizes. By examining one specimen of a 18 lb. gun, they seem to be the survivors of the original
battery of Noah's
3 Nov 1844 Allowed on liberty until sunset - Those that returned on time mostly were very drunk from rum - The next morning, Percival and a party went ashore, ostensibly to visit the fort, but to seek out the AWOLs - "It was certain on board that a minor mutiny was about to take place, without any apparent reason for the mischief." - When Percival returned that afternoon, he said, "that there had been some trouble with the men who had broken liberty, and that seaman Edward Brett had threatened him when they attempted to bring the men back. Finally, after a small fight, the seamen were brought back. Shortly after, all hands were called to witness the punishment of the 12 leaders. They were each given 12 lashes or more for their activity in the matter. Some still seemed to be drunk at the time of punishment, but the Captain made sure all were sober after."
Nov 1844 Underway from Nos Bey 1800 Arrived off
Nov 1844 "...all hands were called
to witness the punishment of the deserters during our visit to
Nov 1844 1730 Arrived at
19 Nov 1844 "The Captain grumbled at a continued day of diplomatic exchange." - [TheAmerican Consul had stayed aboard overnight; a French Commodore and the British Consul called during the afternoon after Waters left.]
20 Nov 1844 "The only fault in the [fresh] water here is that it has been found to run directly beneath the Sultan's Palace and is not as clear as we should wish. Captain [Fitzwilliam] Owen [a British surveyor] attributes all the sickness onboard his vessels to this water. As yet we have found it good." - Percival and a party of officers dined with the Sultan.
22 Nov 1844 Percival and a party again called on the Sultan.
24 Nov 1844 "Since it was Sunday, Captain Percival read the sermon. At 10:00 in the morning, all hands were called to muster at the morning prayer. The sermon read was Lazarus and the Rich Man, being one of the Captain's favorites."
25 Nov 1844 The Sultan sent a boatload of wood as a gift.
26 Nov 1844 "...most of the crew, including the Captain stayed up for a total eclipse of the moon." ‑‑ Later in the morning, the Sultan sent another gift of fruit "Perhaps Zanzibar has been too friendly as there is some talk among the men of a large number of men deserting vessels here and hoping to ship home with the next passing vessel in the opposite direction. We have had but two, and their whereabouts on the island are already known: they are John White and William Jones. Most of the deserters will volunteer for cutter duty and while filling the tanks will sneak off. Most of that type can be found frequently at the same bar where they were last seen the previous night and many are returned in the most vile condition." - 13 sick - Sailed at 1545 - At 1740, anchored to discharge the pilot and debark the Consul; White and Jones returned under arrest in boat that took Consul ashore.
27 Nov 1844 16 sick.
Nov 1844 Anchored off
29 Nov 1844 20 sick.
2 Dec 1844
"At 8 A.M., all hands were called to witness the punishment and
flogging of John White and William Jones...
The Captain informed the crew that they had also resisted arrest by the
6 Dec 1844 33 sick.
18 Dec 1844 Crew numbers 457; composition by nationalities determined.
20 Dec 1844 "At 7 a.m. [sic], the bad news of the sudden death of John Weston, seaman, was reported. He had been our first death and the crew almost expected at this point to be spared from the vengeful wreckage of life that death creates. He had been sick for four days and then made a recovery, leaving many behind that were much sicker than he. He was found on the berth deck, not too far from the sick bay. Several men who found him reported that he was moaning, but no one recorded his last words. The surgeon thought that fever might have been the cause of death. But upon cutting the body, and further inspecting the corpse, Weston was found to have badly decayed lungs. All hands were called to bury the dead and the solemn occasion has saddened the entire crew. The ceremony of reading the burial service was performed by Lieutenant Paine. The body of Seaman John P. Weston was taken to the gangway and committed to the deep. An American Jack was placed upon it." - 44 sick.
22 Dec 1844 Percival conducted divine services at 10 - "We have had another death onboard ship. This time the deceased is Christian Fisher... His body was examined and...[h]is stomach was very decayed... Because of the many who are sick aboard ship, Captain Percival has ordered the forward cabin converted immediately into a hospital. Four of the more serious sick have already been removed to the improvised quarters." - 46 sick.
24 Dec 1844 "We have tried to sell the last belongings and clothing of our deceased seamen... Our colors are...at half mast... Some onboard think that the myth about the Sultan’s water being contaminated has caused quite a stir about the men, but so far, all [sic] the deaths have been from other causes as the port mortems have proven." - 54 sick.
30 Dec 1844 61 sick.
2 Jan 1845
66 sick "...carronade no.
21..." - 1400 arrived at Quallah Battoo,
4 Jan 1845 As Clerk Stephens commented, quote: "The Captain has...been severely ill with the gout in his feet and right hand..." - 64 sick.
6 Jan 1845 65 sick.
7 Jan 1845 L. H. Peck given 6 lashes of the colt for disobeying the Captain of the Afterguard.
8 Jan 1845 Arrived at Wylah at 1030.
22 Jan 1845 57 sick.
29 Jan 1845 At 2100 Peter Wolf, Captain of the Main Hold, died of dysentery in the forward cabin after a 2‑month illness; buried at sea at 0930 the next morning.
2 Feb 1845 1130 Arrived at Singapore.
3 Feb 1845 60 sick.
5 Feb 1845 Charles Springer and Stephen Hoyt have died since arrival in port; buried ashore.
24 Feb 1844 Liberty granted.
25 Feb 1844 New slings fitted to the main yard.
2 Mar 1845 Two Englishmen, a Scot, and a German discharged .30 sick.
8 Mar 1845 A barometer received on board Irishman James Corbett, seaman discharged "because of misconduct;" another Irishman and an Englishman discharged .Draft: 22' 10" fwd; 21' 3" aft.
10 Mar 1845 Underway 31 sick.
18 Mar 1845 Off the mouth of the Sambas River, Borneo Master Strain took the 4th cutter to reconnoitre coast in vicinity - At 1600, following return of Strain, 1st cutter and gig, under Lieutenant William C. Chaplin, and with Marine Lieutenant J. W. Curtis, Strain, Midshipman Colville Terrett, Assistant Surgeon M. Duvall, and Naturalist J. C. Reinhardt, 23 armed seamen and 3 Marines, ordered up the river to the settlement of Sambas in reconnaissance - 27 sick.
Mar 1845 Percival getting anxious, 3rd
cutter sent up
22 Mar 1845 Underway 26 sick.
31 Mar 1845 "It was reported to the Captain that several of the marines and seamen had become cross with each other and several fights were reported. One of the more serious incidents of this nature was between marine Arthur DeBlueg and seaman Thomas Starkey. Starkey being the principal instigator was given one dozen lashes of the cat, while the marine was given only nine lashes." - 19 sick.
1 Apr 1845 "As we have entered dangerous waters and reports from various ships are sufficient warning against possible incidents, we have begun exercizing our marines in small arms fire at various targets. The cutters are also being exercized for exchanges with a possible enemy. Most of the drills concern themselves with defending the cutters in withdrawal or landings."
4 Apr 1845 "Our marines are now practicing firing at targets while they are suspended from the fore yard arms to give cover to the cutters. Our gun divisions have also commenced practicing for cover and support as well."
10 Apr 1845 Underway at daylight.
11 Apr 1845 20 sick Lat 5‑47N, Long. 115-07E.
Apr 1845 "The Constitution is in a
very ticklish position as we are almost surrounded by shoals. None of them are marked on our charts. The entire crew now realizes that a shipwreck on
such a wild and savage coast as
14 Apr 1845 Lat. 5‑07N, Long. 114‑44E.
17 Apr 1845 Lat. 4‑45N, Long. 114‑18E 17 sick.
21 Apr 1845 "During this day the temperature is hot as hell." - Lat. 4‑43N, Long. ?
22 Apr 1845 Lat. 4‑53N, 112‑48E - 24 sick.
26 Apr 1845 22 sick.
1 May 1845 23 sick.
10 May 1845 Arrived Turon ,William Cook died and was buried ashore (on the 11th).
12 May 1845 Shifted closer to the fort Got water from streams flowing down [Monkey Mountain] to the shore, using a hose tub to lead water directly into casks Three large ships lay in close to land, housed over; they have "about 16 guns each" - 80 men first went ashore with Percival, including 30 Marines.
While Percival made second trip to town, ship fired 10 ranging "shells."
20 May 1845 It was so hot, that I decided to try and cook an egg in the sun which I did by placing it on my hammock cloth and blocking it. Since the air temperature was now a constant 90 degrees the egg was soon ready to eat..." - Fired 9 shots at an escaping junk.
Ship repainted while at Turon.
29 May 1845 "The crew is busily painting a white streak."
30 May 1845 Painters still at work.
5 Jun 1845
Boarded American ship RAINBOW, homeward bound, and gave her a mail bag -
1900 Anchored off
7 Jun 1845 Upon learning of Commodore Dallas' death, fired 13 guns and half‑masted the flag.
9 Jun 1845
Boarded American vessel ANN MARIA; sent letter bag to the
Jun 1845 "…while standing up for
19 Jun 1845 0830 Stood up the river.
20 Jun 1845 1200 Anchored in Blenheim Reach. - "Filled up with water from the river. This we did by filtering the water through charcoal…it was very good…"
21 Jun ‑ 1 Jul 1845 - Boarded American ships AKBAR, SAPPHO, and HORATIO.
4 Jul 1845 Fired a 21-gun salute and splice the main brace,
17 Jul 1845 Charles Lewis, "the sea captain of the fore deck," died and was buried ashore.
22 Jul 1845 Charles Crohon [sic] died and was buried ashore.
30 Jul 1845 Carpenters repairing the boats damaged at Turon - 59 sick.
31 Jul 1845 0900 Underway for river mouth with royals and starboard studdingsails set. - 60 sick.
3 Aug 1845 Anchored near French frigate CLEOPATRE. - Percival spoke to the crew about rumors of war, hoping they were untrue but expressing confidence in his men.
13 Aug 1845 Private Henry Lehman died. - buried ashore.
24 Aug 1845 SeamanGeorge Fulcher died "after a short illness."
27 Aug 1845 Underway from Boca Tigris.
28 Aug 1845 Arrived at Blenheim Reach.
1 Sep 1845 Underway. Shotted the guns.
5 Sep 1845 29 sick.
6 Sep 1845 28 sick. .Exercised the great guns.
8 Sep 1845 Sold the clothing and belongings of George Fulcher.
10 Sep 1845 28 sick.
11 Sep 1845 "A negro named John Wright was punished as was Isaac Travers with the cats for stealing knives." - Boarded the American ship TALBOT, sendinga
mail bag to the
12 Sep 1845
17 Sep 1845 "We have had several attempts at desertion in the fourth cutter. - The men who made the attempt, Peter Williams, William Valiant, and John Brown were all brought back the same day." 43 sick.
Sep 1845 Standing out of
24 Sep 1845 37 sick.
Sep 1845 Exercised the great guns - 28
sick - Anchored off
27 Sep 1845 Edward Robinson, seaman, deserted.
29 Sep 1845 Exercised divisions at great guns and small arms. - 27 sick.
30 Sep 1845 "Today we Spliced the Main Brace because on this day 36 years ago, the Captain got spliced to his better half." - Overhauled the larboard anchor chain.
3 Oct 1845 "...hoisted the first and second cutters out of the launch..." - Overhauled the starboard anchor chain.
5 Oct 1845 24 sick.
17 Oct 1845 Exercised at great guns and small arms.
20 Oct 1845 "Split the main spenser."
22 Oct 1845 23 sick.
7 Nov 1845 Exercised at great guns and small arms; fired 134 rounds: more than usual. - Marine Charles G. Clyde died and was buried at sea.
Nov 1845 Arrived at
1 Dec 1845 Underway for Monterey.
4 Dec 1845 32 sick.
7 Dec 1845 30 sick.
7 Jan 1846
8 Jan 1846 Gun crews experimented with flannel, felt, and rubber cylinders. - The India rubber always stuck fast to the bottoms of the guns; the felt probably was best, but only slightly better than flannel.
10 Jan 1846 "...the patent anchor."
12 Jan 1846 "Several men punished today. - One was caught gambling and the other two were fighting."
14 Jan 1846 Arrived Mazatlan at 1430.
23 Jan 1846 Half‑masted the colors for Andrew Jackson. - "Since we have been at anchor, we have had to punish so many of the crew for drunkenness."
24 Jan 1845 Fired memorial minute guns. - An English brig drifted afoul of CONSTITUTION and stove in the gig; hoisted it in for repairs.
22 Apr 1846 Underway for home.
25 Apr 1846 Witnessed a partial eclipse of the sun. - Overhauling rigging.
5 May 1846 "Old Whit [Sailmaker] is on the gun deck making a new foresail. In rainy weather, he and his gang block up the gun deck and in fair weather, they occupy the lee side of the quarter deck, so there is no chance for a reefer either in fair or foul weather. However, he has not thrown his time away, for there has been made by him a new suit of sails for this ship." - 32 sick.
21 May 1846 John Chippey punished with 12 lashes of the cat for insolence to the Boatswain. - Carpenters repairing main hatch coamings. - 32 sick.
22 May 1846 Fired 36 shot in practice. - "The guns were double shotted for the purpose of experimenting on the breechings. It carried away two of the breechings of the spar deck guns."
27 May 1846 Exercised at battle stations. - 30 sick.
9 Jun 1846 0600 William Wallace and John Tyrer punished with 6 of the colt each for skulking. - Exercised at battle stations.
Jun 1846 Arrived at
19 Jun 1846 "...a great problem with violations on the liberty leave." - At muster, missing were Charles H. Prince, Thomas Prott, Robert Keys, Joseph Welch, Joseph Riley, Charles Seymour, John Collins, and [Midshipman] John Hopson.
20 Jun 1846 1000 Underway.
24 Jun 1846 0910 Mustered to witness punishments. - 1150 Henry Mathews [sic] died.
1 Jul 1846 "...set down the spencer." - Michael McLaughlin got 12 of the cat for skulking.
Jul 1846 0900 Spoke the French barque
JUSTE of St. Malo, which needed medical help. - Surgeon McLeod was sent over
and, at 1000, returned with French seaman Peter
Mace, who had broken his leg, and who would be delivered to
20 Jul 1846 John Moore, seaman, killed when hit in the head by a block while hauling out the weather main jigger.
28 Jul 1846 1530 Arrived at Rio.
30 Jul 1846 Painting the hull.
5 Aug 1846
Underway 0700, convoying
22 Aug 1846 Convoy up to 16 ships. 48 sick.
11 Sep 1846 Thomas Hammons, gunner's mate, fell overboard; rescued with a line from the main chains. - Several men punished for gambling and sleeping on watch.
17 Sep 1846 Came upon derelict USS WASHINGTON, brig; took it in tow ‑‑ "...gig and SPARROW boat." -0 Convoy beginning to break up. - Lat 36‑39N, Long. 73‑00W.
21 Sep 1846 Pilot boat ENOCH TURLEY took brig in tow for the Delaware Capes.
26 Sep 1846 Boy Dan B. Perry given 12 of the colt for missing muster.
Note: Carpenter Thomas turned in his warrant and "went south" at the start of the Civil War.