Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: -
John Dumas’ place and date of birth are unknown.
An American sailor, Dumas had been captured by the Royal Navy and taken aboard HMS Guerriere prior to the British ship’s engagement with USS Constitution on August 19, 1812.
Dumas was briefly received into Constitution’s crew as an able seaman after the crew of the defeated Guerriere was transferred aboard off the coast of Nova Scotia. He left the ship upon its arrival in Boston on August 31, 1812.
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, 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
Dumas was imprisoned onboard HMS Guerriere during her battle with Constitution on August 19, 1812.
Dumas’ place and date of death are unknown.