Dates of Service: -
Basset’s date and place of birth are unknown.
Basset enlisted as a boy on May 20, 1812. He promoted to ordinary seaman on July 1, 1812. He was assigned to gun no. 6 as a powder passer on the quarterdeck.
The rank of boy had nothing to do with age, but rather experience. Although some boys may have been as young as eight when they entered the navy, the majority were in their mid to late teens. They were in effect apprentice seamen, learning the ways of the ship on what was most likely their first cruise. The rank was equivalent to “landsman” in the Royal Navy. The boys composed one part of that class of sailors referred to (sometimes derisively) as “idlers,” meaning that they stood no regular watch, except when “all hands” were called. Other duties assigned to boys included attending the watch glass and bell, running messages, acting as servants for the officers. They coiled the running rigging after sail evolutions and were often sent aloft to furl or loose the light sails. Much of the routine maintenance of the ship, such as, sweeping, scrubbing, and slushing the masts, fell to the boys. In the course of these duties they would have been learning rudimentary seamanship, especially knots and splices. In battle, some of the boys passed powder or shot to the guns. Boys made between $6 and $10 per month.
Among the enlisted men, ordinary seamen stood in the middle of the lower-deck hierarchy. These men had typically sailed one or two voyages and knew basic seamanship. Like the able seamen, they too could “hand, reef, and steer,” but some of the more complicated maneuvers were foreign to them. Many ordinary seamen would have been numbered among the topmen, the young and agile crewmembers who were responsible for working aloft on the masts and yards. The ordinary seaman made $10.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
Basset participated in the battle against Lady Warren. Basset fought in the battle with HMS Guerriere and $42.62 of the $50,000 prize money. He fought in the battle with HMS Java and received $42.30 of the $50,000 prize money.
After February 17, 1813, Basset was discharged from Constitution. His place and date of death are unknown.