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Charles Frederick Waldo

Rank(s): Master’s Mate

Dates of Service: 10/28/1812 - 3/18/1813

Birth Date: 12/21/1783

Death Date: 8/30/1838

Early Life

Charles Frederick Waldo was born on December 21, 1783 in Salem, Massachusetts to Jonathan Waldo, Esq., and Meletiah (Messenger) Waldo. His mother also went by the name Millie.

Waldo was appointed as Master’s Mate in October of 1812 when he joined USS Constitution. In battle, he was in charge of the main top station.

Battles and Engagements

Waldo was on board for the battle with HMS Java. He was wounded in the left leg, which had to be amputated above the knee. Waldo had earned $20 a month as a Master’s Mate, and received a share of the $50,000 in prize money that was divided among the crew for the capture of Java.

On March 10, 1813, he was transferred to the Charlestown Navy Yard and meritoriously promoted to Sailing Master as compensation for his injury. As a Sailing Master stationed in the Navy Yard, he drew $40 a month, 2 rations a day plus one ration for a servant, twelve cords of wood per year and one candle per day. Waldo had several duties in his role, one of which was to keep a journal of the yard where he kept coded notes in the margins.

He filed for a pension due to his injury which normally would have been $10 per month, but it appears that William Bainbridge approved him for $20 per month beginning on March 18, 1813. When not housed in the Navy Yard, Waldo was also entitled to chamber money, in which case his annual income was $1,888. This was considerably better than even a full-pay lieutenant.

Some argued that he was given too much, but Waldo argued that he had a young a growing family and that he needed more money. In the summer of 1817, he married Sarah Vose Forster. Between 1818 and 1831, they had one son and five daughters.

Despite his injury, life in the Navy Yard appears to have suited Waldo. In the winter of 1818, he visited Mary Williams in Salem, who later wrote, “Charles Waldo called to see us this winter with his wife and son. I was highly pleased with them. Chas. seems as happy as ever. Teaches his little boy to sing ‘Cease! Rude Boreas!’ His wife is very pretty, appears to love Charles with great simplicity and affection, and appears to be a fine wife.”

Waldo remained at the Navy Yard until his death on August 30, 1838. He is buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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