Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: 6/15/1812 - 8/19/1812
Death Date: 8/19/1812
Ashford’s date and place of birth are unknown.
Ashford entered the United States Navy on June 15, 1812 and enlisted as a able seaman for the crew of USS Constitution on June 22 in the Washington Navy Yard.
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
Ashford became an early casualty of the War of 1812 when he died during the Constitution ’s battle with HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812.