John F. Oliver
Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: -
John Oliver’s date and place of birth are unknown.
Oliver attained the rank of ordinary seaman in the US Navy on May 3, 1812 and reported for duty aboard Constitution on May 12, 1812 at the Washington Navy Yard.
Oliver attained the rank of able seaman shortly after joining Constitution on July 1, 1812. His battle station was carronade no. 9 as second loader and fireman; his watch section is unknown. His specific duty aboard ship was to be a crewmember fully qualified to hand, reef, and steer as a skilled member of the ship’s basic labor force.
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
Oliver participated in the battles with HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812 and with HMS Java on December 29, 1812. For these victories, he received $42.62 ½ and $42.30 in prize money.
Oliver departed the ship sometime after February 17, 1813. Oliver’s date and place of death are unknown.