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MUSEUM:  
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Ship's Crew

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Joseph Cross

Rank(s): Lieutenant

Dates of Service: -

Death Date: 2/10/1834

Early Life
Craig’s place and date of birth are unknown.

Early Experience
Cross was a midshipman on Gosport on September 4, 1811. He received a warrant on June 9, 1811.

Joseph Cross joined Constitution’s crew as a midshipman around April 12, 1812. In 1814, he was assigned to assist officer in charge of guns no. 3 & 4 as a part of the quarterdeck division. On October 17, 1814, a court martial was held. Cross was charged with disobedience of orders after he directed a party of men from Constitution to Noodle Island. He was found not guilty. He was a part of the prize crew on ex-HMS Levant, which was captured by a British squadron in Porto Praya on March 11, 1815. He was released due to the end of the war and returned to Baltimore, Maryland via cartel on May 2, 1815. He returned to Constitution on May 24, 1815. He detached after September 10, 1815. Cross re-entered as a lieutenant on July 26, 1824. He was discharged on January 31, 1825.

Midshipmen were officers in training. Drawn from the ranks of the middle class, they went to sea to learn seamanship and leadership. They received some formal training in mathematics, languages, and literature from the schoolmaster or chaplain, but most of their education was hands-on. In time, if they mastered their trade, hey could expect to receive a lieutenant’s commission. A midshipman had no specific duties as such, but would be expected to do whatever was ordered of him. This could include supervising the men aloft, running orders for the officers, co-commanding a division in battle, sending and receiving signals, or standing a watch. In addition to their various shipboard duties, midshipmen were expected to keep a journal of every cruise, in which they recorded essential information and observations. Midshipman were paid $19.00 per month and got only one ration per day.

The lieutenant was the captain’s second-in-command to whom great power and responsibility were delegated. In the captain’s absence he was in command of the ship. A 44-gun frigate carried between 4 and 6 lieutenants. The senior lieutenant was called the first lieutenant (equivalent to the Executive Officer today). He did not stand watch like the rest of the crew, but was, like the captain, always available. It was the first lieutenant’s duty to see that the captain’s orders were carried out satisfactorily. The smooth running of the ship depended on his organizational skills. It was he who created the watch and quarter bills and who oversaw the ship’s maintenance. All others in the ship reported to the first lieutenant, who in turn made regular reports to the captain. During special or delicate evolutions (such as getting underway or anchoring), he had command of the ship. In battle, most commands were passed from the captain to the first lieutenant. All told, the first lieutenant was a very busy man; he rarely left the ship and then never overnight. For his trouble the lieutenant received $40.00 per month and three rations per day.

Battles and Engagements
Cross participated in the battle with HMS Guerriere and received part of the prize money. He also participated in the battle with HMS Java and received $148.43 in prize money. He participated in the battles with HMS Cyane and HMS Levant and received $126.93 in prize money.

Cross was transferred to USS Brandywine on July 21, 1826. He went on leave on October 12, 1829 and December 16, 1831 for three months. He was transferred to the Washington Navy Yard on March 30, 1831. He was awarded a sword from the State of Maryland. In 1826, he resided in Maryland. Cross died in Prince George’s County, Maryland on February 10, 1834.


Crew ID

2948