of A Cruise in the United States Frigate Constitution
S. Frigate Constitution off the Gosport Navy Yard February 1st, 1839.
April 9th 1839. We get under way this morning from our
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.
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‑‑
Cruz June 17th 1839., We anchored here
this morning after a passage of 28 days from
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
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
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.