DIARY OF WRIGHT SMITH MIDSHIPMAN,1
U. S.
FRIGATE CONSTITUTION


 

 

July 14, 1803: Shiped [sic] on Board the United States Frigate Constitution, Commodore Edward Preble, mounting 44 Guns ‑ Length of her Keel 175 feet ‑ 175 feet long on her Berth Deck ‑ 180 feet on her Gun Deck ‑ 185 feet on the Spar Deck ‑ 14'6" hold ‑ 6 feet high between Decks ‑ 7 feet between the Spar and Gun Deck 43 feet Beam.

 

August 14, 1803: Sailed from Boston, having on board Tobias Lear, Consul General from the United State [sic] to the Barbary Powers; also his Lady.

 

September 5, 1803: Made Cape St. Vincent, in Spain.

 

8: Spoke a Moorish Cruiser of 32 Guns, ignorant of their being at War with us, the Commodore permitted them to proceed on their Cruise.

 

12: Arrived at Gibraltar. L[earned] that Moors was taking our vessels.

 

16: Lieut. Dent came on Board as first Liut. [sic]

 

18: Sailed.

 

19: Arrived at Tangier.

 

20: Sailed.

 

21: Arrived at Gibraltar.

 

26: Sailed on a cruise.

 

October 5, 1803: Arrived at Tangier in Company with the John Adams, New York, Adams and Schooner Nautilus.‑ at our Quarters night.

 

6: The Emperor of Morocco arrived escorted by 20,000 men.

 

7: Fired a Salute, which was answered from the Fort.

 

10: Comodore [sic] Preble & Consul Lear went onshore.

 

14: Sailed. Spoke the Denegaul [ed: Donegal], 50 guns.

 

15: Arrived at Gibraltar.

 

22: Sailed.

 

23: Arrived at Cadiz in Spain.

 

November 4, 1803: Went on Shore in company with John Burchard & John Gerrard.

 

5: Sailed.

 

6: Arrived at Algeciras, a small Town opposite the Rock.

 

13: Sailed.

 

19: Arrived at Algiers.

 

20: Consul Lear and Liut. [sic] went ashore. Fresh Grub.

 

21: Sailed with a Fair wind.

 

24: Spoke the Amason [sic], an English Frigate, who gave us the disagreeable intelligence of the capture 17 the U. S. Frigate Philadelphia 44 Guns [sic] ‑ Capt. Bainbridge; by the Tripolines.

 

26: Arrived off Malta, passed St. Paul's Bay.

 

28: Arrived at Syracuse in Cicely [sic]; our Rendevous [sic] ‑ Buried our Purser, Mr. Deblois, ashore. Mount Eatna [sic] in view.

 

December 16, 1803: Sailed.

 

19: Arrived at Malta ‑‑‑ Sailed.

 

24: Arrived off Tripola [sic], captured a small Ketch Bound to Constantinople with Presents to the Grand Signior [sic].

 

29: Arrived at SyracuseIsland of Cicely [sic].

 

January 1, 1804: Went ashore and visited the Catacombs which are supposed to extend 50 miles under ground. Likewise Dionicious' [sic] Ear‑‑ The Ship striped [sic] of her riging [sic]‑‑ Can hardly walk the Streets for Beggars and Pickpockets. Arathusa's [sic] Fountain and Amphitheatre ancient Temple of Minerva.

 

February 1, 1804: Lying in Syracuse.

 

8: Went on shore and saw Arathusa's [sic] Fountain and ruins of the ancient Amphitheatres. Likewise all the principal Churches.

 

12: Went on shore.

 

15: Ashore.

 

20: Began to rigg [sic] the ship.

 

March 1, 1804: Finished Riging [sic] the Ship.

 

2: Sailed.

 

3 Arrived at Malta.

 

16: Sailed.

 

18: Arrived at Syracuse.

 

21: Sailed.

 

26: Arrived off Tripoli.

 

27: Sent a Flag of Truce on shore. We are all kept in ignorance respecting the result of the negociation [sic].

 

April 3, 1804: Arrived at Tunis.

 

5: Sailed.

 

12: Arrived at Malta ‑‑‑ Sailed.

 

14: Arrived at Syracuse.

 

26: Sailed.

 

28: Arrived at Malta.

 

29: Sail'd.

 

May 1, 1804: Arrived at Tunis. Lay close by the ancient City of Carthage.

 

3: Sailed.

6: Arrived at Perlermo (Palermo) ‑‑‑ Sailed.

 

8: Arrived at NaplesMount Vesuvius.

 

19: Sailed.

 

22: At the foot of Mount Strombola [sic].

 

23: Saw Fire on Mt. Strombola all night.

 

24: Arriv'd at Messina ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑Scilla & Caribais [sic].

 

30: Sailed.

 

31: Arrived at Syracuse.

 

June 3, 1804: Sailed.

 

5: Arrived at Malta.

 

8: Sail'd.

 

12: Arrived off Tripola [sic].

 

13: Col OBrian went on shore with a Flag of Truce.

 

15: Boating into Tunis.

 

19: Arrived at Tunis.

 

21: Sailed.

 

23: Arrived at Malta.

 

24: Sailed.

 

25: Arrive at Syracuse.

 

29: Sailed.

 

30: Arrived at Messina.

 

July 4, 1804: Went on shore ‑ a miserable set of beings.

 

8: Left Messina having 6 gun boats & 2 Bombards in tow.

 

9: Arriv's at Syracuse.

 

12: Sailed with the 6 Gun Boats & 2 Bombards ‑ returned.

13: Sail'd at night. Anchor'd at Cape Parro [sic].

 

14: Sail'd with a fair wind.

 

15: Arrived at Malta.

 

21: Sailed with the 6 Gun Boats & 2 Bombards.

 

25: Made Tripola.

 

27: Came to Anchor.

 

Note: ‑ Our squadron consisted of the Constitution 44. Brig Argus 18. Brig Syren [sic] 18 ‑ Schooner Nautilus 14, schooner Vixen 14, Schooner Enterprise 14, 8 Gun Boats, 1‑26 on Board each, and 2 Bombards 15 Inch [illegible]

 

August 3, 1804: At sunrise the Comodore [sic] made a signal for the Squadron to get under way; the enemies [sic] gun Boats got under way at the same time out Gun Boats commenced the fire, which was returned with spirit from their Batteries and Gun Boats. The Brigs and Schooner covered our Gun Boat and we directed our shot particularly at the Bashaw's Castle.‑‑ For 5 glasses there was ]sic] 120 Guns playing upon us; the greatest part of their shot went over us.‑‑The 2 Bombards were at anchor sending their shells into the town, and the 6 Gun Boats were engaged with 10 of theirs, 3 of which they took, together with 52 Prisoners, 20 Badly wounded. Lieut. James Decatur lost his life while Boarding a Boat which had struck to him; when they saw this they again hoisted their Colours [sic] and stood in; Capt. Stephen Decatur, his brother, followed and came up with them and show'd no quarters [sic] ‑ at least 80 of the enemy were killed ‑ we had but 4 men wounded.

 

August 4, 1804: Sent our wounded Prisoners ashore by a French Privateer which came out of Tripola early this morning.‑‑ and [sic] came to an anchor abreast the Town ‑ Commited [sic] to the Deep, Lieut. James Decatur.

 

7: This morning the Comodore [sic] sent in 9 Gun Boats together with the 2 Bombards to silence a 6 Gun Battery to the westward of the Town ‑ The Smallest Gun Boat of the three which was taken on the 3rd was Blown up together with 16 men, the remainder swam to other Boats ‑ Lieut. Caldwell was killed this day. Thirty Bomb Shells were sent into the Town ‑ This evening arrived the U. S. Frigate John Adams.‑‑ came [sic] to an anchor above the Town.

 

8: Weighed Anchor.

 

9: Came to an Anchor.

 

August 24, 1804: 458 Bomb Shells were thrown into the Town.

 

28: At 1/2 past 2 Got under way and attacked the Town their Gun Boats did not come outside the Rocks as before we lay this time 2 Glasses within Pistol Shot of their Cannon. 4 men Belonging to the John Adams were killed and their Boat sunk from under them ‑ our Ship received no material Injury one shot carried away our Main Topgallant yard another our Anchor Stock, one Remains in our main mast and another struck a Gun on the Quarter Deck and Wounded one man ‑ The Comodore [sic] within 2 feet of the Gun and was not hurt

 

September 2, 1804: Made another attack upon the Town, which lasted 5 Glasses; sunk 3 of their Guns Boats [sic].

 

3: Sent in the Ketch (our first Prize) with 100 Barrels of Powder and 150 Bomb Shells which was Blown up close alongside the Bashaw's Castle; 8  Gun Boats and a Gally [sic] was missing the next morning ‑ In this Enterprise we lost Capt. Sumers [sic] of the Nautilus, Liet. [sic]  Wadsworth, Mr. Isriel [sic] Midshipman and 12 Seamen, 6 of whom Belonged to this Ship.

 

7: The President 44 ‑ Commodore Barron, and Constellation Capt. Cambel [sic] arrived off Tripola.

 

9: Captured 2 Greek Ships.

 

15: Arrived at Malta.

 

29: Comodore [sic] Preble left the Ship & Capt. Stephen Decatur took the command.

 

October 12th, 1804: Commodore Preble absent; Employed in Painting the Ship.

 

28: The Ship's company very sickly ‑ Capt. Hall's Marines go on Board the President and Capt. Gales marines [sic] came on Board here. During the absence of Com. Preble to Naples the Constitution was Painted, and Cork'd [sic] throughout Mr. Charles Gordon first Lieut.

 

November 1, 1805: Sailed.

 

2: Arrived at Syracuse.

 

5: Capt. Rodgers came on Board with all his Officers. Capt. Decatur takes Command of the Congress.

 

16: The John Adams sailed with Commodore Preble.

 

28: Sailed.

 

December 1, 1804: Off Malta.

 

2: Took our departure from Goza [sic].

 

11: off [sic] Algiers.

 

17: off [sic] Malaga.

 

18: Hove too in the Bay of Gibraltar, heard that war was declared between England and Spain. at 12 Oclock off Tangiers.

 

19: Sent a Boat ashore at Tangiers.

 

20: Commenced a Heavy Gale which continued until the [unfinished]

 

29: Arrive at Lisbon.

 

January 16, 1805: Lord Fitzgerald of Ireland, visited the Ship. Stopt my Grog.

 

February 3, 1805: Had a grand Ball on Board.

 

9: Sailed.

 

12: Arrive at Tangiers & send a Boat ashore.

 

14: Arrived at the Rock ‑ Saw a smart engagement Between the English and Spanish Brigs and Gun Boats.

 

17: Sailed.

 

29: Arrive at Malta.

 

March 2, 1805: Sailed.

 

4: Arrived at Tripola.

 

12: Manned our Boats and sent them in with an intention, it seems, of Cutting out a Brig; this Ship and the Constellation discharged one Broadside each & did not succeed.

 

16: Arrived at Malta.

 

April 3, 1805: Sailed.

 

6: Arrived off Tripola.

 

7: James Ervin, a marine was floged [sic] by the Ship's Company for theft.

 

15: A small Boat arrived from Gerba with Letters for the Commanding Officer of the Blockade.

 

16: Watered the Brig Vixen.

 

May 1, 1805: Off Tripola in a Gale of Wind.

 

9: Boarded a Ketch mounting 10 Brass Guns [?] out of Tripola. Bro't their men on Board & put them all in Irons 49 in number.

 

10: Discharged them all. Proved to be Tunecian [sic].

 

Gall. qt.

20: Commenced drawing my Grog Due me 7 3

 

26: The Essex arrived with Consul Lear who with Capt. Rodgers went in and hoisted a flag of Truce which was immediately answered from ashore.

 

27: A Gale of wind.

 

28: Standing in for Land.

 

29: Hoisted the Broad Pennant ‑ Consul Lear came on Board ‑ The Essex again hoisted the White Flag ‑ Spanish Consul came on Board ‑ at sunset went on shore.

 

May 30, 1805: Thursday the Vixen hoisted the White Flag. The Spanish Consul came off and continued on Board all night‑‑

 

31: Friday this morning the Spanish Consul went on Shore. Afternoon the Schooner Nautilus joined us & Bro't Dispatches from America ‑ Spanish Consul came on Board ‑ sunset went on shore.

 

June 1, 1805: Saturday At Sun Rise the Vixen hoisted the white Flag ‑ At 10 oclock within 20 Rod of the Batteries ‑ At half past one Capt Bainbridge came on board ‑ at half past 6 Capt Bainbridge Left the Ship and went on shore.

 

2: At Sun Rise the white flag was hoisted on the Bashaw's Castle which was answered from the Vixen. At 9 A.M. Sunday the Danish Consul came on Board with the Bashaw's Prime Minister ‑ At 2 P.M. the consul & P. Minister went on shore - At 5 came on Board ‑ at 1/2 past 6 went on shore ‑ A sparrowmarrow [sic] arrived with Fruit from Malta.

 

3d: Monday. At Sun Rise Danish consul came on Board. at [sic] 9 returned on shore with Consul Lear ‑ at 11 oclock came to an anchor. At 1/2 past 4 Danish Consul came on Board ‑ At 5 a sallute [sic] of 21 Guns was fired from the Bashaw's Castle and answered from this Ship with  an equal number.

 

June 4, 1805: Tuesday 9 oclock The American Flag was displayed on the Bashaw's Castle with A salute of 21 Guns ‑ answered from this ship ‑ 10 oclock Shiped [sic] our anchor ‑ 1 oclock a sallute [sic] of 9 Guns fired from ashore and answered from this ship. This afternoon Officers & Crew of the Philadelphia arrived on Board, ‑ At 9 P.M. came to anchor.

 

Wed. 5: Several of our officers went on shore today.

 

Thurs 6: Constellation arrives ‑ at 1/2 past 10 Weighed our day anchor and left the Coast.

 

Friday: had [sic] the N E Side of the Island of Malta -

7

 

Sat. 8: Arrived at Malta

 

10: Sailed

11: Arrived at Syracuse

 

12: Sailed evening, took 70 Tripolitan Prisoners on Board

 

June 14, 1805: Off the harbor of Malta 80,000 Dollars Came on Board ‑ made Sail Arrived at Tripola, the American Flag displayed on the Bashaw's Castle.

 

18: a [sic] quantity of Money was sent on shore

 

19: Came to an anchor ‑ Commodore Rodgers went ashore, a salute of 21 Guns Fired from ashore, answered with an equal number

 

20: Commodore Rodgers went ashore, on entering the Castle he was Saluted with 21 Guns ‑ answered ‑

 

21: Col. Lear came on Board accompanied by the Danish Swedish and Spanish consuls ‑ also the High Minister's Son, a Beautiful Boy ‑ 6 oclock returned on shore.

 

June 21 [sic]: 9 oclock Weighed anchor and left the coast. Same day took on Board 2 Penelopes [sic: antelopes]‑ 2 Astriges [sic: ostriches] & several African Sheep ‑‑‑

 

24: Anchored in Malta ‑ Watering the Ship

 

26: Sailed

 

27: Anchored in Syracuse, ‑ Lying in the harbor the President 44 ‑ Congress 44 [sic] ‑ Essex 32 ‑ Constellation 36 [sic] ‑ Brig Argus 18 ‑ Vixen 14 Thunderer 8 ‑‑

 

July 3d, 1805: Congress sailed

 

4th: Eight oclock dressed Ship in colours At 12 the whole Squadron Fired a Salute in honor of the Day ‑ Commodore Rodgers & Consul Lear Dined ashore together with all the Principal officers of the Squadron. At night had an elegant Ball on our Quarter Deck: Capt Hall's Band attending 39 in number. Brig Argus sailed for Alexandria.

 

5th: Exchanged Ship's companies with the President ‑ Commodore Rogers [sic] refused to let me go.

 

July 7th, 1805: The President Sailed for America ‑ the U. S. S. John Adams arrived from America fired a salute ‑ also arrived from America 3 Gun Boats Wm. Herriden [sic: Nathaniel Haraden] commanded the 1st that arrived.

 

8th: 6 other Gun Boats arrived. ‑‑ Went on shore.

 

9th: Schooner Nautilus arrived this evening.

 

12th: Schooner Enterprise, Lieut Robertson [sic], arrived from Venice with 5 Gun Boats.

 

13th: This morning the following U.S. Vessels sailed from Syracuse ‑ Constitution: Constellation: Essex: John Adams: Vixen: Syren: Argus: Enterprise: Nautilus: Franklin & 13 Gun Boats except the Congress dayly [sic] ‑ dispatch the Vixen after her.

 

July 15th 1805: The whole Squadron Anchored in Malta.

 

18: 40 English Transports with Troops arrived at Malta dayly [sic] expecting Congress The whole Squadron got under Way

 

30: Spoke the Brig Vixen off Tunis Harbor. *

 

31st: Came to an Anchor in a Line ‑ talk of War

 

The Congress had sailed 3 days before we arrived in search of us ‑‑ Expect a war with Tunis every hour

 

September 1, 1805: Consul Davis came on Board The U. S. States Frigate Congress arrived

 

2: A Court Marshal [sic] was held on Board

 

3: John Fording a Marine this day received 30 lashes by sentence of a Court Marshal [sic], for sleeping on his Post also Samuel Peacock, Marine, received 100 lashes by C.M. for writing a mutinous Letter directed to any of his Majestys Officers Commanding in the Mediterranean 20 to be given on Board each Ship ‑

 

5: Letters continually Passing between the Bey & the Commodore expectation of War with Tunis

 

8th: Consul Davis came off with his effects

 

Aug 8th, 1805 [sic]: Great probabillity [sic] of war with the Bey. This afternoon a Brig attempting to come out of the harbor was fired at by the Commodore and made to return.‑‑ Made a Signal for Nautilus to get under way. The Com. ordered Capt. Dent to Board all Vessels bound in or out, those coming from Sea to remain out & those from the harbor to return in Port again until the Business was adjusted

 

11: 10 oclock this evening a Boat came off from ashore with dispaches [sic] from the Bey ‑ Col. Lear & Davis went ashore.

 

13: Brig Argus arrived from Alexandria ‑‑‑

 

August 14, 1805: The Brig Vixen came round Cape Carthage in full chase of a large Tunician [sic] Gun Boat which, to gain the harbor was obliged to pass close between the Essex & the Land;‑ when within Gun Shot the Essex commenced a heavy Fire on her, as also Did the Brig Vixen. We fired on Gun but to no effect as she got into port with But little damage.‑ She received 2 or 3 shot thro' her hull and one thro' her sails ‑

 

15: Consul Lear came on Board from ashore

 

16: Consul Lear went on shore

 

18: returned [sic] on Board

 

19: All the men who were Shiped [sic] in Lisbon embarked on board the John Adams ‑ the Commodore gave me leave to go home to America, I accordingly left the Ship and embark'd on Board the John Adams ‑ thus ends my Journal kept while on Board the Constitution.

 

1. Wright Smith, in official documents, is listed as a Seaman. This material copied from a transcript of the original, which continues until 22 December 1805, by which time JOHN ADAMS had returned to the United States and Smith, himself, to New England. There also are some scattered notes from later times.