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MUSEUM:  
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Ship's Crew

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John Alpheus

Rank(s): Able Seaman

Dates of Service: 8/1/1812 - 12/29/1812

Early Life

Alpheus’s date and place of birth are unknown.

Early Experience

Alpheus served on US Gunboat no. 85, a small vessel with a low draft fitted for guns, where he probably learned his basic seamanship skills.

Alpheus transferred to the Constitution on August 1, 1812. Due to his previous experience aboard a ship, Alpheus held the rank of an able seaman. This required him to have extensive knowledge of the workings of the sailing and the steering of the ship at the helm because he would have to participate in these tasks as well as any others that were necessary to make the ship run efficiently.

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

During battle Alpheus was stationed at the no. 11 Long Gun as 1st Loader. As a loader, Alpheus loaded the gun with cartridge and cannonball and stood by as the gun fired. He participated in the victory over HMS Guerriere on 19 August 1812 and received $42.62 ½ in prize money. His consecutive victory over HMS Java , on December 29, 1812, secured him $42.30 in prize money.

Alpheus was discharged from the ship on February 17, 1813. His date and place of death are unknown.


Crew ID

162