Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: 8/13/1814 -
The date and location of Proctor’s birth is unknown.
The eruption of hostilities in the War of 1812 inspired Proctor to join the navy. After a few days serving aboard a gunboat, he served on the frigate Chesapeake until its capture by HMS Shannon on June 1, 1813. During the battle with the Shannon, Proctor received two serious injuries, which were described by doctors: “one from a splinter which struck him upon the forehead & nose; it occasioned a severe contusion upon his forehead & fractured the bridge of his nose- he has since been subject to pain & dizziness of the head to such a degree, that he considers it dangerous to go aloft, & it is therefore a great injury to his business as ship master.” “Another wound was occasioned by a musket ball which entered his right thigh about 4 inches above the knee joint & lodged under the rectus femoris muscle from whence it was extracted by an English surgeon after his arrival at Halifax. The ancle [sic] was dislocated at the same time, whether by the fall or a blow, he cannot distinctly tell- the effects of the two last mentioned wounds have been to weaken the muscles of the thigh & leg, so that walking is rendered difficult & painful, partic[ularly] on ascending ground.- The veins of the leg & ancle have become varicose, & the ancle & foot swollen after exercise.”
As part of a prisoner exchange, Proctor was returned to Boston from Halifax where only seven days later he joined USS Constitution , on August 13, 1814. He served as an able seaman and earned $12 a month.
Battles and Engagements
The descriptions of Proctor’s injuries from battle aboard Chesapeake raise questions about his fitness to serve, yet he did serve as a seaman, with a battle station on either the foretop or forecastle.
Proctor served aboard the ship-of-the-line Washington in the Mediterranean for the remainder of his naval service. As a civilian, he returned to the sea in the merchant service for six years as a master of a West India brig. He wanted to continue his trade, but was hindered by his wartime injuries, as he described: “[I] should [thus] continue to earn my bread, did not the wounds in my thigh & face incapacitate me- The lameness in my thigh & dizziness of my head render a sea life unsafe & compels me at this time to apply for such pension as my wounds & services entitle me to.” He petitioned for a naval pension in 1830 while living in Portland, ME and received it two years later.