John Alexander Eskridge
Dates of Service: -
Death Date: 3/17/1832
John Alexander Eskridge was born in Leesburg, Virginia.
Eskridge received his midshipman’s warrant on January 1, 1812. On February 24, he was ordered to “Dr Hunter’s school,” a short-lived precursor to a naval academy where midshipmen learned the rudiments of navigation, mathematics, and other skills to prepare them for a career in the navy.
Eskridge reported for duty on board Constitution on May 16, 1812 while the ship was at Norfolk, Virginia. He was transferred to USS Independence at Boston in 1815.
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
Eskridge participated in the victories over HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812 and HMS Java on December 29, 1812, receiving $42.62 ½ and $148.43 in prize money for the victories. He was on board when Constitution captured a British man-of-war schooner and three merchant vessels. He also fought in the battle with HMS Cyane and HMS Levant on February 20, 1815. During the battle with Java, Eskridge commanded gun no. 7 on the gun deck.
At the end of the War of 1812, Eskridge was transferred to USS Independence, but requested a furlough to go on a merchant voyage to Europe, which was granted. He was promoted to lieutenant on March 5, 1817 and ordered to the Boston Navy Yard. In 1821 he served on the sloop of war Hornet. He was admitted to the Norfolk Naval Hospital on February 2, 1832 and was discharged on March 9. He died eight days later.