Rank(s): Ordinary Seaman
Dates of Service: 5/20/1812 - 5/3/1814
Cole’s place and date of birth are unknown.
Cole enlisted as an able seaman on May 1, 1812.
William Cole joined Constitution ’s crew as an ordinary seaman on May 20, 1812. Beginning on May 31, 1812, he was sick for two days. He had a cough and pain in his breast and was better by June 1. He was promoted to quarter gunner around 1813. In 1814, he had the watch assignment of larboard and station assignment of idler. He was discharged on May 3, 1814.
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.
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
Cole participated in a war cruise, capturing a small British man-of-war and three merchantmen. He 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.
Cole’s place and date of death are unknown.