Dates of Service: 11/30/1813 - 4/11/1814
Birth Date: 10/8/1787
Death Date: 1817
Henry Bancroft was born on October 8, 1787 in Worcester, Massachusetts, son of Aaron Bancroft, a minister, and Lucretia Chandler.
Bancroft joined Constitution ’s crew on November 30, 1813 as a Chaplain. Around April 11, 1814 he was recorded as being a Midshipman.
Education, rather than religious fervor, was a prerequisite for a chaplain’s commission in the early American navy. Few navy chaplains were ordained ministers, but most were college educated. It is true that the chaplain was required to read divine service at Sunday muster and perform funerals, but the chaplain’s most important duty was to serve as a schoolmaster to the midshipman and teach them writing, arithmetic, navigation, and sometimes foreign languages. On board squadron flagships, the chaplain often served as the commodore’s secretary. Most chaplains served in the navy for a year or less. They were paid $40.00 per month and got two rations per day.
Midshipmen were officers in training. Drawn from the ranks of the middle class, they went to sea to learn seamanship and leadership. They received some formal training in mathematics, languages, and literature from the schoolmaster or chaplain, but most of their education was hands-on. In time, if they mastered their trade, hey could expect to receive a lieutenant’s commission. A midshipman had no specific duties as such, but would be expected to do whatever was ordered of him. This could include supervising the men aloft, running orders for the officers, co-commanding a division in battle, sending and receiving signals, or standing a watch. In addition to their various shipboard duties, midshipmen were expected to keep a journal of every cruise, in which they recorded essential information and observations. Midshipman were paid $19.00 per month and got only one ration per day.
Battles and Engagements
He participated in Constitution ’s 1814 war cruise capturing a small British man-of-war and three merchantmen.
Bancroft detached from Constitution on May 31, 1814.