Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: 5/20/1812 - 2/17/1813
Agnew’s date and place of birth are unknown.
Little is known about Agnew’s life before he joined Constitution, but he probably had prior sailing experience as he joined as an able seaman.
Agnew reported aboard the Constitution at the Washington Navy Yard on May 20, 1812. He left Constitution on February 17, 1813.
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
Agnew participated in the victories over HMS Guerriere , August 19, 1812, and HMS Java , December 29, 1812. He was awarded $42.62 ½ and $42.30 in prize money for the victories. Agnew’s battle station in the second engagement was at gun no. 13 on the gun deck.
Agnew’s date and place of death are unknown.