Rank(s): Quarter Gunner
Dates of Service: 7/27/1811 - 2/17/1813
Cook’s place and date of birth are unknown.
Philip Cook joined Constitution ’s crew as a quarter gunner on July 27, 1811 as a transfer from USS Hornet . He re-entered as an able seaman on May 10, 1812. On March 26, 1812, he became ill and was sick for 14 days before returning to duty. He was discharged after February 17, 1813.
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.
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.
Battles and Engagements
During his time on board, the ship made a diplomatic voyage to France and Holland. Cook participated in the battle with HMS Guerriere and received $42.62 ½ in prize money. He also participated in the battle with HMS Java and received $42.30 in prize money.
Cook’s place and date of death are unknown.