sailor’s existence. On board a merchant ship, where relations between officers and crew remained friendly, these were pleasures he could indulge in frequently. But on board a warship of the United States Navy, such pleasantries were hard to come by. To be sure, Navy tobacco was sweet and mild, if the suppliers followed the letter of their contract. Even on the crowded gundeck of a frigate, a resourceful man could find a snug corner for a snooze. But one thing the service denied him was the permission to keep his clothing and other personal possessions in a sturdy
|A sea chest that belonged to Constitution Boatswain’s Mate Andrew Knowland, before 1819. USS Constitution Museum collection.|
officers were “allowed to have chests.”
hammocks and their bags; stowing a few frocks and trowsers in the former; so that they can shift at night, if they wish, when the hammocks are piped down. But they gain very little by this.
|Purser Thomas Chew’s bag, 1812 to 1832. USS Constitution Museum collection, photo by David Bohl.|
worked grommets in the tabling. Since the bags belonged to an individual, they usually carry the man’s name or other identifying motif in paint in the center of one of the panels. By the middle of the nineteenth century, gorgeously embroidered bags began to proliferate, and many reside in art
museums today, admired as pieces of folk art.
|Gunner John Lord’s bag. He served on Constitution between 1824 and 1828, and died at Charlestown in 1829. USS Constitution Museum collection, photo by David Bohl.|