Indent of carpenters, blockmakers, and boatswains stores for refit of USS Congress
This three-page list details all of the spars, blocks, and standing rigging that were required as part of a refit of USS Congress. Although the list is not dated, its exhaustive nature suggests that it was created in the aftermath of USS Congress’ complete dismasting during a winter storm in the North Atlantic in January of 1800. Under the command of James Sever, Congress was to sail in company with USS Essex, under the command of Captain Edward Preble, on a voyage to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) to seek out French privateers and protect American shipping there.
When they encountered the storm off the American coast, Sever’s sailing tactics for surviving the storm caused Congress’ entire rigging to be destroyed. He hove-to, close-hauled, in an attempt to keep the bow of the ship generally pointed in the direction of the wind and waves. Preble, meanwhile chose to “scud,” setting a bare minimum of sail and keeping the ship pointed downwind and moving with the wind and waves. Preble’s more experienced approach allowed Essex to ride out the wind and waves unscathed and continue across the Atlantic, unaware of what had happened to Congress. Sever was forced to limp back into port at Norfolk, Virginia to begin a complete rebuild of the ship’s rigging as outlined in these lists.