Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 5/26/1787
Francis Eveleth was born in Beverly, Massachusetts on May 26, 1787. He was the fourth son of John and Anna (Roundey) Eveleth.
As with many of his contemporaries from Beverly, Eveleth went to sea at an early age. Between 1805 and 1810, he sailed on several voyages in Salem vessels to the West Indies, Europe, and China. He first sailed in the 115-ton brig Fox to Corunna, Spain in May 1805. He sailed in the same vessel to the West Indies in November of the same year. He sailed to Havana, Cuba in June 1806 on the ship Trent. When he returned, he shipped as second mate on the ship Packet for a voyage to Europe. He made a second voyage in the same ship in June 1807. He sailed in the 269-ton brig Pilgrim to Canton in March 1809. He finally sailed in the schooner Four Sisters to Archangel, Russia from Salem in April 1810.
Eveleth joined Constitution’s crew as an able seaman on August 10, 1813 at Boston. He was discharged and paid off on August 4, 1815.
An able seaman was among the elite members of the crew. Having sailed for years “before the mast” on merchant vessels or worked his way up through the ranks in the navy, it was on him that the officers relied for the smooth operation of the ship. Traditionally, a seaman had to “hand (furl or take in a sail), reef (reduce a sail’s area), and steer,” but these were in fact the barest requirements for the seaman rating. In addition, they were expected to be familiar with nearly all aspects of shipboard labor. He had to be able to cast the sounding lead, be able to sew a sail with a palm and needle, and understand all parts of the rigging and the stowage of the hold. Furthermore, he had to know how to fight, as part of a gun crew or with small arms. It was from the ranks of the able seamen that the petty and warrant officers were drawn. The able seaman made $12.00 per month. In 1814, Eveleth sent his entire pay home to his mother Anna as an allotment.
Battles and Engagements
Eveleth was on board when Constitution captured a British man-of-war schooner and three merchant vessels. He fought in the battle with HMS Cyane and HMS Levant on February 20, 1815 as the second sponger to gun number 1 on the forecastle. He received $22.19 in prize money for the victory over the Levant and part of the $20,000 awarded the crew for the Cyane.
Eveleth returned to sea after the war. In 1823, he joined the brig Abby as first mate. Nine days out from Rio de Janeiro, “he fell dead while engaged in his duties on deck, in apparent health. He was an experienced and intrepid seaman, and a skilful officer.”