William H. Collins
Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: 7/2/1812 - 4/1/1813
Collins’ place and date of birth are unknown.
Collins joined Constitution ’s crew on July 2, 1812, while the ship was at anchor off Annapolis, Maryland. He was transferred from the ship in April 1813 to Sackets Harbor, New York, where he served in the American fleet on Lake Ontario.
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
Collins saw action in battle against HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812 and HMS Java on December 29, 1812. During the second engagement he served as 2nd captain to gun no. 1 on the forecastle.
Collins’ place and date of death are unknown.