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Constitution Web History: True?


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Can anyone verify whether this is true or not? It sounds a bit contrived to me but???
The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides), as a combat vessel, carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (I.e. Fresh water distillers).

However, let it be noted that according to her ship's log, "On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum." Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping."

Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum.

Then she headed for the Azores, arriving there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, she set sail for England. In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard each.

By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, although unarmed she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland . Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home.

The U.S.S. Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February, 1799, with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whiskey, and 38,600 gallons of water.


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This has been brought up I do not know how many times over the years. No, it is not true. Someone just made it up and for many years now, we have been plagued with it.


Her first sortie was in July 1798 and she cruised in the Caribbean later that year and into 1799 to protect US shipping against the French during the Quasi War between the US and France that lasted from 1798-1801. The US was not at war with Great Britain at this time and she did not engage any British ships nor was she anywhere near the Azores or Scotland. I have read the logbook for this period and I can tell you that the story above is just not true.


Her storage capacity is probably about right for the most part. I am sure you can nit pick on many details there, but the water and shot capacity are probably very close to correct. During her time in the Carribbean, she stayed at sea for over a year, being replenished at sea by supply ships.



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     Russ is probably the foremost knowledgeable person on this forum for when it comes to the Constitution. He knows her inside and out. In the past when it was MSW1 he had given me more information then I had in the book for this ship. and trust me I have everyone but 1 or 2 that has to do with her. Anything you would want or need to know about this ship he would be able to tell you, and on top of that he is very knowledgeable on other Sailing Ships as well, if he thinks he can help someone with a problem he doesn't think twice about doing so. He has been a member of MSW way longer that me. I have only been a member for a little over 5 years now, I meet him on MSW about 3 or 4 days after I join this forum. He is good trust me. If he saids it isn't so then it isn't so. 


Joe :D


Go MSW :) :)

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