Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: -
Russell was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts to Richard and Mary Russell.
Able Seaman Russell was transferred to Constitution from USS Hornet on August 4, 1811 at Norfolk, VA. He deserted from the ship on March 19, 1812, but was captured and brought back on July 11, 1812. His enlistment ended in 1813, but he re-enlisted for two years on December 8, 1813. He was discharged and paid off on June 16, 1815.
The able seaman was an 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. The able seaman made $12.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
Russell participated in victories over HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812 and HMS Java on December 29, 1812, receiving $42.62 ½ and $42.30 in prize money for the victories. During the second battle, he served carronade no. 1 on the forecastle. He was on board when Constitution captured a British man-of-war schooner and three merchant vessels in 1814. He fought in the battle with HMS Cyane and HMS Levant at carronade no. 4, where he acted as 2nd sponger.
Russell was living in Marblehead in 1820, but his place and date of death are unknown.