Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 1785
Death Date: 7/27/1861
Owen Taylor was born in Maryland in 1785.
Taylor transferred to Constitution from Gunboat 85 on July 30, 1812 at Boston.
Taylor entered Constitution as an able seaman on July 30, 1812. He would have been paid $12 a month.
The able seaman was an 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. The able seaman made $12.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
During Taylor’s brief stint in the Navy, he sustained a serious battle wound that affected his health the rest of his life. Only a month after coming aboard Constitution, Taylor was shot during the battle against HMS Guerriere. When the ship returned to Boston, he entered the Marine Hospital in Charlestown, where he was treated for over two months for his injuries, which were not healing properly. Surgeon Amos Evans described his original wound:
“…Owen Taylor received a Musket Ball just behind the joint of the left shoulder, which passed through the scapula, wounded the left lung, and came out near the spine on the same side; re-entered the muscles of the right shoulder, & passing a few inches further came out through the undergarments. Blood mixed with air forced through the wound – he expectorated frothy blood in considerable quantities; and experienced great difficulty breathing for a few days.”
For his efforts in the victory against Guerriere, Taylor received $42.62 ½ in prize money.
As a civilian seaman, Taylor joined the merchant ship Galatea in 1820 and sailed for Calcutta, India. But his old injuries sidelined him from his duties, and he spent time first in the ship’s sick bay and then a month in the Calcutta hospital. Returning home, he went back to the Marine Hospital in November 1821 where doctors found that “the original wound is yet open, &… must interfere with the use of his left arm.”
No longer able to work as a seaman, Taylor and his wife lived for many years afterwards in Boston and nearby Weymouth. How he earned a living is unknown, although he did receive a monthly $6 pension. In 1854 Taylor and his wife moved to Lawrence, KS where he died July 27, 1861 from complications of his old wound. Eunice, who received her husband’s pension, stayed awhile longer in Kansas and eventually moved back to Boston.