Rank(s): Marine Private
Dates of Service: 9/6/1812 - 5/15/1813
Birth Date: 1789
Michael Chesley was born around 1789 in Wiscasset, Maine.
Chesley enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps on August 14, 1812.
In 1812, he was 5 feet, 4 ½ inches tall with grey eyes, a dark complexion, and dark hair.
Chesley was transferred to Constitution ’s crew as a private on September 6, 1812. He was assigned to the main top. Chesley deserted on May 15, 1813.
Marine privates served as the shipboard police force and were, in effect, seagoing soldiers. They used the same manual of arms as the army and trained in much the same way. Unlike the army, marines had to be familiar with naval work and warfare. Marines could not be ordered aloft to do the work of the seamen there, but they could expect to man the capstan or serve as gun crews on the gun deck. Marines stood watch as sentries at sensitive parts of the ship, to see that no unauthorized people passed into those spaces (such as the captain’s cabin or the spirit room). In battle, marines armed with muskets or rifles took up station along the gangway or in the tops to keep up a constant fire on the enemy’s decks. The marine private received $6.00-$8.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
Chesley was wounded in victory over HMS Java on December 29, 1812. He received $42.30 in prize money.
Chesley’s place and date of death are unknown.