Rank(s): Quarter Gunner
Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 12/1782
Death Date: 3/28/1858
Michael Clear was born on December 10, 1783 in Virginia.
Clear was transferred from Gunboat 81 to Constitution’s crew as an able seaman on August 2, 1812. He was promoted to quarter gunner on October 10, 1813. In 1812, he was assigned to gun no. 2, train tackle as a part of the first division, gun deck. He was discharged on May 18, 1814.
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.
Quarter gunners received supervision from the gunner’s mates. Most ships carried one quarter gunner for every four guns. Their duties were similar to those of the gunner’s mates. But they were also considered prime seamen and often found themselves keeping watch and supervising tricky sail handling maneuvers. Quarter gunners made $18.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
Clear participated in battle with HMS Guerriere and received $42.62 ½ in prize money. He also participated in battle with HMS Java and received $42.30 in prize money.
After 1815, he worked in merchant service. Clear was a crew member of USS Congressunder Captain Morris. He was also a crew member of USS Erie under Captain Crane. After 1825, he was a sailing master in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was still serving in the Navy around 1850. Clear died on March 28, 1858 in Greenwich, Connecticut due to an unknown cause.