Dates of Service: 12/31/1813 - 8/1/1814
Collins’ place and date of birth are unknown.
Mathew Collins joined Constitution ’s crew as a boy before December 31, 1813. In 1814, he was assigned to gun no. 9, pass powder as a part of the third division. He was discharged after August 1814.
The rank of boy had nothing to do with age, but rather experience. Although some boys may have been as young as eight when they entered the navy, the majority were in their mid to late teens. They were in effect apprentice seamen, learning the ways of the ship on what was most likely their first cruise. The rank was equivalent to “landsman” in the Royal Navy. The boys composed one part of that class of sailors referred to (sometimes derisively) as “idlers,” meaning that they stood no regular watch, except when “all hands” were called. Other duties assigned to boys included attending the watch glass and bell, running messages, acting as servants for the officers. They coiled the running rigging after sail evolutions and were often sent aloft to furl or loose the light sails. Much of the routine maintenance of the ship, such as, sweeping, scrubbing, and slushing the masts, fell to the lot of the boys. In the course of these duties they would have been learning rudimentary seamanship, especially knots and splices. In battle, some of the boys passed powder or shot to the guns. Boys made from between $6 and $10 per month.
Battles and Engagements
Collins participated in war cruise, capturing a small British man-of-war and three merchantmen.
Collins’ place and date of death are unknown.