SHIP:  
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
MUSEUM:  
9:00 am - 6:00 pm
SHIP:  
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
MUSEUM:  
9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Ship's Crew

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Thomas Nelson

Rank(s): Able Seaman

Dates of Service: -

Early Life
Thomas Nelson’s date and place of birth are unknown.

Early Experience
Nelson attained the rank of seaman in the US Navy on July 31, 1812 and reported for duty aboard Constitution on August 1, 1812, transferring from Gunboat 85, then in Boston.

Nelson’s battle station was second sponger at carronade no. 6, but his watch section is unknown. His specific duty aboard ship was to be a crewmember fully qualified to hand, reef, and steer as a skilled member of the ship’s basic labor force.

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
Nelson participated in the battles with HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812 and HMS Java on December 29, 1812. For his role in these victories, he received $42.62 ½ and $42.30 in prize money. On September 3, 1812, he volunteered to augment Commodore John Rodgers’ squadron when it was thought a battle with a British squadron off Boston was imminent; that proved to be a false alarm.

Nelson departed the ship February 27, 1813. Nelson’s date and place of death are unknown.


Crew ID

10045