Allen Mc Donald
Rank(s): Marine Private
Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 1775
Allen McDonald was born in New York about the year 1775.
He must have had some schooling because he was able to sign his name. He trained as a shoemaker, but unable to find steady employment, he enlisted in the Marine Corps under Captain Gale in Philadelphia on May 4, 1811. He was promoted to corporal on February 6, 1812, but was “broken” to private again on April 23.
McDonald joined Constitution’s crew at the Washington Navy Yard on June 11, 1812. At the time of his entry he served as an acting corporal. In May 1813 he was demoted to private and transferred to the Charlestown Navy Yard Marine barracks. He rejoined Constitution on August 13, 1813 and remained on board until July 28, 1815.
Marine privates served as the shipboard police force and were, in effect, sea-going soldiers. They used the same manual of arms as the army and trained in much the same way. Unlike the army, marines had to be familiar with naval work and warfare. Marines could not be ordered aloft to do the work of the seamen there, but they could expect to man the capstan or serve as gun crews on the gun deck. Marines stood watch as sentries at sensitive parts of the ship, to see that no unauthorized people passed into those spaces (such as the captain’s cabin or the spirit room). In battle, marines armed with muskets or rifles took up station along the gangway or in the tops to keep up a constant fire on the enemy’s decks. The marine private received $6.00-$8.00 per month.
Like the sergeant, the corporal was a non-commissioned officer who supervised the men on a more intimate level. He lived and fought alongside the privates under his command, and assisted and directed all of the various duties of the marines. A corporal received $9.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
He participated in the victories over HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812 and HMS Java on December 29, 1812. He received $42.62 ½ and $42.30 in prize money for the first two victories. His battle station during these engagements was the foretop, where he served as a sharpshooter. He was on board when Constitution captured a British man-of-war schooner and three merchant vessels in 1814. He participated in the victory over HMS Cyane and HMS Levant on February 20, 1815, and he shared with the crew $45,000 in prize money. During this battle he fought in the maintop.
McDonald’s date of discharge from the Marine Corps is unknown.