CharlieZardoz

Frigate USS United States stern detail

107 posts in this topic

You're right, frolick. Boudroit agrees that no draught is currently located and that she was a one-off by Jean-Francois Lafosse, his only frigate design. To expand on the Winfield mention, he refers to her as having started as one of Forfait's La Romaine-class fregate-bombarde, equipped with a pair of mortars and a main battery of light 24pdrs. They were all converted to conventional 18pdr frigates pretty quickly. Immortalite was one of those ships. What is possible is that Lafosse supervised her modified design and construction instead.

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Regarding the Columbia image, good observation frolick. That said that Canney's book does offer some -er "suspect" pics supposedly of certain vessels (cough Enterprize), so wouldn't be surprised if that engraving is actually of Sabine instead. Or it could be that the artist was liberal with the gun ports as we've also seen before (cough Baugean's Enterprize ) ;)

 

Regarding Guerriere that is a shame since depictions of her show a rather attractive looking frigate, however I imagine a reconstruction of her wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility with enough time and effort. :)

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Above the waterline it should probably look like any captured French frigate refitted to British standards as she spent over a year at Chatham getting fitted out. Best bet for the general design would be to find plans of the above-mentioned fregate-bombarde, work it out to the dimensions of Guerriere as listed, and make allowances for the armament. The rest of the ship should be fairly standard.

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Jean Boudroit mentioned some French tabular data about the Guerriere, in his French Frigates book, wherein she had an unusually large "Block coefficient" - or some such - that might have been explained by a long extension of the flat midship section. JB wrote that is was so unusually large that he wondered if it had not been a transcription error. La Furieuse's  draught survives and is shown in Robert Gardiner's "Frigates of the Napoleonic Wars" book, but she was a lightly armed transport, or "fitted en flute" when taken, so she has no spar deck gun ports.

 

One of the other anomalies of the Guerriere, was that she was able to carry thirty long 18-pounders on her main deck, two more than the standard French or British "38", even though she was only a couple feet longer on deck. British contemporary historian William James noted that the extra guns were permanently assigned to the bridle ports, and that there was so much space between the number one gun port and the bridle port, that they could arm both at the same time. You couldn't do that with a standard 38-gun ship of either nation. In fact, James noted that it was such a great distance, that they were able to fit a permanent round-house privy for the crew between the ports which did not interfere with the functions of either gun! The French even reportedly armed the Guerriere's bridle port with a large brass howitzer when HMS Blanche took her. So, she was unusual, in that the designer wanted to get the broadside guns as far aft as possible, so I'm guessing that she had very sharp lines forward.

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La Furieuse's draught is on page 150 of Gardiner's book, but she does show spar deck ports. They just weren't armed when she was taken. My bad. This is the closest you can get to Guerriere's hull form, if Rif Winfield is correct. Compare with L'Immortalite's draught on page 168.  Naval Historian Geoffrey Footner claims that L'Insurgent, which fought the USS Constellation in 1799, was also a sister-frigate to L'Immortalite.

 

La Desiree', whose draught survives in the NMM, may also have been a sister to L'Immortalite.

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Thought I would throw in my two cents worth:
 
 
May 14, 1795 Joshua Humphreys to Timothy Pickering, Secretary of War:
“Sir Enclosed you have Mr. Rush’s Ideas of the Heads of
the Frigates…. The sterns I conceive should be all alike [on the 6
frigates], to show they belong to one family, and represented by an Eagle
in the Center with the constellation around him supported on each
quarter by the figures of Liberty & Justice.”1
 
Description of USS United States’ stern decoration:
“Stern – In the center of the taff[r]ail, the figure of America, the
right arm resting on the base of a monument, and three books
representing the three branches of government; in the right hand a
pen, to record the heroic actions of her sons; in her left, the
constitution of the United States; at her feet the American
fasces, erect, supported by the standards of the army and navy;
on her right the figure of wisdom, and the left the figure of
strength, both inclined, and looking to the centre; in the right
hand of wisdom a spear, the left resting against the Port, and the
bira of vigilance at her feet; the left hand of strength resting on a
Herculean club; the right hand resting against the port, as the grand
supporters of America. In the quarter pieces Liberty and Union,
supporting the general design as the basis of a Republican government.
The figure of Liberty on the starboard quarter, and Union on the
larboard, both figures inclining to the centre; in the right hand of Liberty
the staff and cap, in the left the rights of man; the figure of Union or
concord, the right hand resting on the emblem of union, in the left the
olive branch of peace.”2
 
1 Joshua Humphreys to Timothy Pickering 14 May 1795; from “Papers of the War Department: 1784-1800”.
 
2 Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia, 14 April 1800, as quoted in Naval Documents Related to the
Quasi-War Between the United States and France, Naval Operations. Washington, DC: Government Printing
Office, 1935, p. 406.

 

 

Regards,

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That's the President's stern carvings, not the United States's, me-thinks.


 


From Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia, April 14, 1800.


 


"In the center of the taffrail, the figure of America the right arm resting on the base of a monument and three books representing the three branches of government; in the right hand a pen, to record the heroic actions of her sons; in her left, the Constitution of the United States; at her feet, the American Fasces erect, supported by the standards of the Army and the Navy. On her right the figure of Wisdom, and the left the figure of Strength, both inclined, and looking to the center; in the right hand of Wisdom, a spear, the left resting against the port, and the bird of vigilence at her feet.; the left hand of Strength resting on a herculean club, the right hand resting against the port as the grand supporters of America  ... etc, etc."


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Is there a book where this has been printed? Id be curious to read the entire correspondence but yeah this is great stuff. Assuming this is the president not united states do you guys think these decorations made it in part by the 1812 period? Seems according to the peabody model of constitution that while some were removed (or damaged who knows) the frigate kept much of her original carvings at least until her later battle s and subsequent modifications.

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Frolick,

 

Is there anything to show that this is the description for President and not United States?  That is the same source that I posted. (see note 2)

 

Regards,

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Quoted in "Figureheads and Their Carvers" by Pauline A. Pinkney, 1940, Appendix 2, page 180. 

 

The quotation begins with "Frigate President, Daniel N. Train, Carver. Designs of the head and this ornaments of the frigate ..." and then goes on the describer first her triple figurehead of George Washington, Truth and Justice, before describing her stern carvings in the second paragraph.

 

On page 178, she quotes the New Hampshire Gazette of April 10th, 1797, and describes the United States's figurehead, the female Genius of America. No stern carving descriptions are given. The Constellation, Merrimack, Maryland and Adams are also described in in additional quoted newspaper articles.

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Is there a book where this has been printed? Id be curious to read the entire correspondence but yeah this is great stuff. Assuming this is the president not united states do you guys think these decorations made it in part by the 1812 period? Seems according to the peabody model of constitution that while some were removed (or damaged who knows) the frigate kept much of her original carvings at least until her later battle s and subsequent modifications.

If you are asking about the letter from Humphreys, they have not been published in totality. Some are in various works such as those by Ian Toll or Tyrone Martin. Others, either full letter or excerpts, can be found in the multi-volume Naval Documents of the quasi-war with France or sister series on Barbary war.

 

I'll get the full citation and links in a bit.

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Here we are.

 

Knox, Dudley, ed. 1935. Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France. Naval Operations from February 1797 to October 1798. Vol. I. 7 vols. U.S. Government Printing Office. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015026646680.

 

Knox, Dudley, ed. 1939. Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. Volume I, Naval Operations Including Diplomatic Background from 1785 through 1801. Vol. I. 6 vols. U.S. Government Printing Office. http://www.ibiblio.org/anrs/barbary.html.

 

These are in the public domain with no restrictions (official US Government publications with no copyright restrictions).  Additional related publications can be found at The American Naval Records Society website at http://ibiblio.org/anrs/

 

Here is the link directly to the Humphreys letter:

http://wardepartmentpapers.org/docimage.php?id=13952&docColID=15227

 

 

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Thanks guys I'm going to look into all these sources. Also I found this today off an auction site, looks like someone built this small table once upon a time using wood from a lot of classic American frigates (including United States) and was recently sold. Kinda wild reminds me of a fillet o fish w boats.  :)

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Another quick question regarding the brandywine class stern aside from this one image I really have not seen many models or images depicting this type or round stern fully decorated as built not just the familiar generic skeletal profile of brandywine. Id settle for any stern images of any of the 9 (as frigates not sloops) just curious if someones seen something I havent.

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Hi all! So I did a bit of researching and found some new info regarding United States as well as some of the other ships stationed at Gosport before the burning in 1861. Two illustrations show what the shipyard looked like apparently the Pennsylvania, Germantown, Plymouth and Dolphin we all in good shape ready to sail simply lacked crew to help them escape. Columbus and Delaware were apparently in bad shape off in the "rotten row" section and useless, then you have Columbia, Raritan and United States which were in line for repairs but at the time of the burning partially disassembled, mastless hulks. Seems United States was a former command of one of the officers and she was there largely for sentimental value but sounds like she had stayed mastless and untouched since 1849 and was too decayed to be salvaged. Also to frolick I found that image of Columbia below which is part of a larger engraving and shows United States to the far left which only has 13 ports so yes I guess the illustrator wasn't very discerning of proper port counts. :D I put arrows to point where the United States is in all the pictures. That one with the capstan in front supposedly shows Pennsylvania in front, then Columbia, Raritan and United States again as you can see all mastless and in ordinary. So now I finally know what state the ships were in by 1861. I took these quotes off the internet from Hamton Roads museum and nnyblog. Enjoy! :)

 

 

There were at the Navy Yard at that time, the sloop-of-war Cumberland, 22 guns, in commission, with a full complement of officers and men on board; the sloops-of-war Plymouth, 22 guns, and Germantown, 22 guns, and the brig Dolphin, 6 guns, almost ready for sea; the steam frigate Merrimac, 40 guns, almost ready for sea and undergoing repairs; the line of battleship Pennsylvania, 120 guns, in commission as a receiving ship, with considerable crew on board, and the 74-gun ships Delaware and Columbus, and the frigates Raritan, Columbia and United States, dismantled and in ordinary. The force of sailors and marines on the various vessels and at the Navy Yard was probably about 600, well armed and abundantly supplied with ammunition. The Plymouth, Germantown, Dolphin and Merrimac were lying alongside the wharves and men working on them. The Delaware and Columbus were at a wharf at the southern end of the yard, and might have been considered in "Rotten Row" a term applied to vessels for which the Government no longer has any use.

 

This is an 1853 engraving in the museum's collection of the Gosport Shipyard that appeared in the Boston-based Gleason's Pictorial Room Companion. In contrast to the 1820 print shown in the previous blog post, this illustration shows the Yard for what it was: an active industrial site and military base. The ships in the illustration are interesting mix of old and new ships and is good representation of how the U.S. Navy was slowly changing and modernizing its fleet. On the far right is the White Elephant that was the 120-gun ship-of-the-line USS Pennsylvania. To her left is second generation 44-gun frigate USS Columbia. Her sister ship USS Savannah can be seen on the far left. Also on the far left is the remains of the historic first generation 44-gun frigate USS United States. At this point in her career, the old frigate, best known for her War of 1812 operations, was being allowed to have a quiet retirement.

 

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So with all that in mind I feel we can come to a few conclusions. If Gosport hadn't been captured then most likely Merrimac, Germantown, Dolphin and Plymouth would have all been put to blockade duty shortly after. Columbus, Delaware, New York and United States would have remained as rotting and useless relics. Pennsylvannia would have stayed in Gosport grounded in the mud serving more as a floating barracks for coastal defense than having any use as a seagoing vessel. And then there is Raritan and Columbia who were most likely being considered to be cut down to sloops same as Cumberland and Savannah. We know Raritan at least was in decent enough shape since after her capture the Confederates did have a plan it seems to convert her (as well as Pennsylvania and some of the rest) to rams similar to Merrimac (see image). However we know that by 1864 all pure sailing warships were essentially retired, either becoming floating barracks/receiving/store ships like Potomac, Brandywine and St Lawrence became or training ships like Savannah, Santee and Sabine. Whether Columbia or Raritan would be the former or the latter depends on the degree of repairs that were needed. With only 2-3 years before their complete antiquation I find it unlikely they would have been cut down to sloops since repairing the old ships was likely not as much of a priority to the navy as building new more useful ships for the war and possibly any work done would have been halted and at best they could have been quickly converted to receiving/store ships the way Potomac and Brandywine were at the beginning of the war. 

 

 

 

Also BTW here is a nice pic of the stern of USS Independence in her latter days as a receiving/store ship. :)

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So a lovely model diorama exists by Kenneth Britten via the shipmodel site. A very nice rendition of USS United States engaged in battle with Macedonian. Seems to utilize the figurehead from that sketch I posted and while the stern ornamentation is somewhat simplified this is the best depiction I've seen of the ship in her 1812 era incarnation. Enjoy!

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On 5/11/2015 at 10:29 PM, CharlieZardoz said:

She was the heaviest of the 6 and sluggish in slow winds.  The President by contrast was the lightest and fastest.

Sorry, but that's based on????  First off, she'd be heaviest of the THREE, not six, as the other 3 were another lighter class of ship.

I've read contemporary accounts where she out sailed Constitution, and there's plenty of log entries showing her sailing very well, just as her sisters have sailed well or poorly based more on clean or fouled bottoms.  Decking over an area aft isn't going to add a significant amount of weight that can't be balanced elsewhere, what it may do is move the center of gravity higher and make her "crank" or more likely to roll, yet the folklore of the ship has her not crank, but slow.  Besides that, she didn't have that deck for very long, a "roundhouse" is a temporary structure, not a cupola as shown on that model in the first post of this thread.  There's no mention of it, when Decatur had her and when she fought Macedonian.

 

Chesapeake was complained of plopping her long overhanging stern in following seas, and wasn't noted as an exceptional sailor ever in her short career.

Constellation carried 24 pounders which made her "extremely crank" and nearly did her in during her fight with l'Insurgente in rough seas.  She was refitted with 18 pounders and was a noted as a very good sailor after that.

 

All 6 frigates had complaints about their ability to carry stores because of their deadrise or of being "crank" because that deadrise reduced how deep their weight could be carried.  How they sailed was often a matter of their captain's abilities to find a balance between their shape and condition and the ability to keep their center of gravity low which meant less stores.

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I'm posting quickly here so correct me if I'm wrong: I read that the United States was considered fast both in her early career and during her post-1812 career, but it was roughly during the war years where she was known as the old wagon for a reason. Now, that could certainly be down to the factors of trim and loading as you mention, though iirc it was after a refit that she gained back some speed. did she not also carry 42pdr carronades During the war? while the Constitution carried 32pdrs. Also I was under the impression that part of the president's designs tweaks (alongside a slight change in tumble home and less hollow in the garboards) was to either reduce the dimensions of her timbers slightly or increase the distance between frames a small amount. It would seem that at least during the war president was indeed faster, even if just by trim and loading, as she led the chase of the HMS Belvidera in 1812 while United States trailed behind the Congress and President. It makes sense that the humphreys design would be somewhat sensitive to weight high up, I know the large French frigates designed by Forfait (with an almost symondite V-shaped hull) were often disappointing post-capture to British captains that couldn't sail or trim them quite right, yet the same ships proved very fast when trimmed just so. 

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It would seem that Chapelle thought the 'cant frames' at both her ends were modified, but otherwise just states that doughty had permitted her builder Christian Bergh to make some slight changes, and she was known to have less sheer than her 2 sisters, and to be generally more lightly built. (p134, the American sailing navy) Perhaps Canney or another writer uncovered more detailed information since.

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So what to make of this. Hi everyone so finally got around to ordering the plans of United States at Maryland Silver. Most of the plans are what we already know meaning Humphreys original builders plans and other things widely available. It was these 2 Gosport inboard/outboard profiles from the 1840's which interested me. Well here they are and when I called to explain that the images appear doubled he wasn't exactly the most forthright about it told me I was wrong then told me he didn't really look at them and call tomorrow. It's a shame because if these are authentic then that's a lot of nice detail there so hopefully I'll catch him in a better mood tomorrow and get some sort of explanation why they have seven masts. ;)

 

So here we are happy to hear everyone's thoughts anyone ever seen these before? What I see is a billet scroll style very similar to other ship plans from the 1840's that I've seen (the plan of St Lawrence and Potomac from Canney's book has lots of similar acorn-y wreath-y type detailings).  The stern tapers at an almost 90 degree angle similar to what the Guerriere/Java class innovated (and Potomac and modern Constitution also has), so you can see the stern was modified probably same time Constitution was modified. And the image confirms the third level poop deck was indeed removed by this time. What interests me is that bit of overhang or lip that you can see hanging off the stern counter?, similar to Potomac but it has a distinctive shape and the transom in general appears taller than that of Constitution (though with the image the way that it is makes it a bit hard to be sure).  Wonder if someone looking at this could extrapolate a rough idea of the stern shape from these side profiles.

 

 

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Hello CharlieZardoz

 

I know from the existence of the plans, but had not yet seen the plans.  Really really interesting.

Do you know the Roux Painting from the United States?

 

Thanks for sharing!

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Ok so caught up with Duane of Maryland Silver today, was a much better convo gave me the whole story about the ship, where he got the plans from and a story about John Allen's sword. Anywhoo our thoughts are that the plans represent the ship being modified due to hogging as well as moving the placement of the masts etc. Since the doubling tapers at both ends that makes perfect sense. :)

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Yes, concur on the 'duplication' at bow and stern, Charlie.  I thought it might be showing two different amounts of sheer, but the duplication extends into the underwater lines as well, so you may be right.

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So now with these plans it's making me wonder if United States's 1840's era stern had the 3 window design of Guerriere/Java,Potomac and Constitution or did she have 4 like Independence. Since most of the period depictions of her stern show her retaining the 7 windows one could make an argument that her stern ended up looking like Independence near the end of her life. The transom edge is higher and looks rounded with more wreath decorations. Overall different Constitution at that time. That said the quarter gallery isn't the same as Independence's meaning it doesn't sit mid deck due to the razing.  

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If you get a better flat, straight on image of the stern in those plans, I can put it up alongside Connie/President's, Java's, and Independence's plans for a visual comparison.

 

I ran into this looking for more references for United States.  https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/manuscripts/c/curtis/asa-curtis-dimensions-of-the-frigate-united-states.html

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A stern with seven real windows, like I believe the USF United States had, has eight counter timbers, (interestingly like the USF Essex had following her 1809 rebuild). If you planked over windows numbered 1,3,5,7, and filled in the spaces between the counter timbers, then you would have the USF Guerriere/Potomac's stern. There is a postwar stern-view painting of the USF Constellation driving through a storm, which shows that she too was fitted with the Guerriere's stern.

 

Frigates with four windows were all either built, or later re-fitted, with round or elliptical sterns. 

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