Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: 6/22/1812 - 2/17/1813
Butcher’s place and date of birth are unknown.
He became an able seaman on June 11, 1812.
James Butcher joined Constitution ’s crew as an able seaman on June 22, 1812. He was assigned to gun no. 15, 2nd loader/2nd boarder as a part of the third division, gun deck. After February 17, 1813, he departed.
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
Butcher participated in the battle with HMS Guerriere and received $42.62 ½ in prize money. He also participated in the battle with HMS Java and received $42.30 in prize money.
Butcher’s place and date of death are unknown.