Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: 8/11/1813 - 7/19/1815
Brown’s place and date of birth are unknown.
Obidiah Brown joined the Constitution ’s crew as an able seaman on August 11, 1813. He was demoted to ordinary seaman on September 11, 1813. In 1814, he had the watch assignment of larboard, the station assignment of afterguard, and was assigned to gun no. 12, fireman as a part of the third division. Brown was discharged on July 19, 1815.
Life on Board
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.
Among the enlisted men, ordinary seamen stood in the middle of the lower-deck hierarchy. These men had typically sailed one or two voyages and knew basic seamanship. Like the able seamen, they too could “hand, reef, and steer,” but some of the more complicated maneuvers were foreign to them. Many ordinary seamen would have been numbered among the topmen, the young and agile crewmembers who were responsible for working aloft on the masts and yards. The ordinary seaman made $10.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
He participated in the battles with HMS Cyane and HMS Levant and received $22.19 in prize money.
Brown’s place and date of death are unknown.