Rank(s): Marine Private
Dates of Service: 9/6/1813 - 12/16/1814
Birth Date: 1786
John Coburn was born around 1786 in Chatham, New York.
Before August 24, 1812, he was a farmer. Coburn enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps on August 24, 1812.
In 1812, he was 5 feet, 2 inches tall with hazel eyes, a fair complexion, and light hair.
Coburn was transferred to Constitution ’s crew as a private before September 6, 1813. In 1814, he was a member of the larboard watch and was assigned to the fore top. He was transferred from Constitution after December 16, 1814.
Marine privates served as the shipboard police force and were, in effect, seagoing soldiers. They used the same manual of arms as the army and trained in much the same way. Unlike the army, marines had to be familiar with naval work and warfare. Marines could not be ordered aloft to do the work of the seamen there, but they could expect to man the capstan or serve as gun crews on the gun deck. Marines stood watch as sentries at sensitive parts of the ship, to see that no unauthorized people passed into those spaces (such as the captain’s cabin or the spirit room). In battle, marines armed with muskets or rifles took up station along the gangway or in the tops to keep up a constant fire on the enemy’s decks. The marine private received $6.00-$8.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
During his time on board, the ship made a war cruise capturing a small British man-of-war and three merchantmen.
Coburn was transferred to USS Independence around April 1815. He was discharged on January 5, 1818. His place and date of death are unknown.