Rank(s): Ordinary Seaman
Dates of Service: 7/27/1811 - 4/2/1813
John Woodman Wentworth was born in Orrington, Maine on January 28,1791, the son of Grant and Lucy Woodman Wentworth. Wentworth married his cousin Polly Wentworth (b. 1798) on November 04, 1816. Together the couple had twelve children.
Wentworth enlisted in the navy in New York on April 2,1811. He was immediately sent to the Washington Navy Yard, and then served on USS Constellation before being transferred to USS Hornet. He joined Constitution at Annapolis, Maryland in July 1811.
Wentworth joined Constitution ’s crew as an ordinary seaman on July 27,1811, having transferred from USS Hornet at Washington, D.C. He was discharged from the ship and the service on April 2,1813 at Boston. According to ship’s station and quarter bill for 1812, Wentworth was stationed in the foretop, where he helped work the upper sails on the foremast. In August 1812, his battle station was at gun no. 12 on the gun deck. On August 12, 1812, while exercising the gun, “the Britching [breech tackle] caught over the Quarter Bolt, and stepping to clear it so that the Gun might come in, one Truck [wheel] of the Carriage run over my right foot so severing the chords and muscles between my ankle and toes as to render my toes and foot in front of the track of the truck stiff and useless.”
Battles and Engagements
Despite his foot injury, Wentworth left sickbay on August 19,1812 and fought in the battle with HMS Guerriere . He was still on board Constitution on December 29,1812 when the ship fought and captured HMS Java off the coast of Brazil. Wentworth received a share of the $50,000 awarded the crew for each victory.
Wentworth returned to Maine after leaving the navy, and found work as a merchant sailor. Although his wartime injury seemed better at the time, it clearly plagued him for the rest of his life. He later wrote, “as I advance in years the inability increases and it is with much pain and difficulty that I can walk or stand for any length of time or keep it from freezing in the cold season of the year.” He attempted to get a pension for his disability as early as 1837, but it wasn’t until 1845 that he was able to gather the documents needed to prove he had been injured in the line of duty. On May 18,1846, Wentworth was granted a pension of $36 per year for his disability, and on September 23,1851 it was increased to $54 per year. In an 1858 petition to Congress, Wentworth asked that his pension be paid from the time of his discharge from the service on April 2,1813. This would have represented a considerable sum if allowed, but the petition was denied on the grounds that such would be “a departure from the existing law.”
Wentworth died on June 10,1863 in Orrington, Maine.