Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 1786
Death Date: 5/20/1856
James Campbell was born in 1786 in Derry, Ireland.
Campbell served an apprenticeship with Kesterd, a sail maker, at Donnell’s Wharf in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1812, he enlisted as a sailmaker.
James Campbell joined Constitution’s crew as a boatswain’s mate on July 4, 1812. On August 2, 1812, he was transferred from Gunboat 81 to Constitution. In 1812, he was assigned to gun no. 13, 1st Captain as a part of the third division, gun deck. He departed before June 1, 1813. Campbell was then reassigned to the Constitution. He departed again some time after February 17, 1813.
The boatswain’s mates were subordinate to the boatswain and aided him with his duties (see boatswain). They were specifically bidden to keep the men at their allotted tasks. Like the boatswain, they carried silver calls or whistles with which to give commands. Many boatswain’s mates carried short, knotted pieces of rope called “starters” or “colts” with which they would strike crew members who were slow or awkward in their duties. It was also the boatswain’s mates’ duty to flog malefactors (who were duly convicted) with the “cat-of-nine-tails.” Boatswain’s mates’ pay amounted to $19.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
Campbell participated in the battle with HMS Guerriere and received $148.43 in prize money. He also participated in the battle with HMS Java and received $42.30 in prize money.
He joined Portsmouth Station on July 19, 1813. Early in 1813, Campbell was reassigned as sail maker to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who was building a Lake Erie naval squadron at Erie, Pennsylvania. On September 10, 1813, Campbell served as a gunner when Perry’s squadron engaged and defeated the British fleet during the Battle of Lake Erie, offshore from Sandusky, Ohio. In 1815, he was discharged. In 1820, he was a privateer commander in Galveston Island, Texas. In 1837, he was a merchant captain in Galveston Island, Texas. After 1838, he was a farmer and rancher in Virginia Point, Swan Lake, Texas. He died there at his residence on May 20, 1856.