Biographical Sketch and Services of Commodore Charles Stewart, of the Navy of the United States
This pamphlet, written by an anonymous author and printed in 1838 by J. Harding in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an account of Charles Stewart’s naval career up until that year. The pamphlet was published the same year Stewart assumed command of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Stewart was born on July 28, 1778 in Philadelphia. In March 1798 he was commissioned as Lieutenant in the United States Navy and joined USS United States. He commanded USS Experiment in the Quasi-War with France, USS Syren during the Barbary War in the Mediterranean, and was promoted to Captain in 1806.
During the War of 1812, Stewart commanded USS Argus, USS Hornet, and USS Constellation before being ordered to USS Constitution in 1813. Between 1813 and 1815, Stewart sailed Constitution on two war cruises and captured three merchant ships and a small Royal Naval vessel. He also defeated HMS Cyane and HMS Levant in battle on February 20, 1815. Constitution’s victory over the frigate Cyane and sloop-of-war Levant occurred about 180 miles off the coast of Madeira as peace negotiations between the United States and Great Britain were underway. Using clever shiphandling and skilled shooting, and with a windward advantage over their opponents, Stewart and his crew were able to divide and conquer the two British ships. Levant and her prize crew were later recaptured by the British, but Cyane was safely sailed back to the United States, and Stewart was awarded a Congressional gold medal for his heroism. Following the War of 1812, he commanded two squadrons before taking over of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.