Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: -
Kingman’s place and date of birth are unknown.
Seaman Isaac Kingman transferred to Constitution from USS Essex on August 4, 1811. When his time ran out, he promptly re-enlisted on May 18, 1813. He was finally discharged at Boston, MA on June 15, 1815.
The able seaman was the elite member 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. The traditional requirements for the seaman were that he be able 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.
Battles and Engagements
Kingman was among the few men who participated in all of Constitution’s battles during the war. In 1811, the ship made a diplomatic voyage to France and Holland. He participated in victories over HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812 and HMS Java on December 29, 1812, receiving $42.62 ½ and $42.30 in prize money for the victories. He 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 and received $51.81 in prize money.
During the battle with the Guerriere, the bow chaser where “Ike” Kingman was stationed was turned over by a British shot. Kingman “got a hoist,” but “jumping up, with a slap of the hand he said to himself, ‘take that.’” Oddly enough, the same thing happened during the battle with the Java. Kingman at that time served as captain of gun no. 14. Wrote one shipmate, “I will now state the undaunted and brave expression of a young man who was Captain of the Gun that was capsized by a shot from the Java. This shot came in the port and struck the gun and turned it over complete [sic]. Kingman on looking at the disaster his gun had met with clapped his hand on his back and exclaimed ‘now fire at that.’ He and his men then righted the gun up again and said, ‘now I will pay you for it’ and commenced firing again.”
Kingman’s place and date of death are unknown.