April 18th
Latitude 35, 43 Longitude 1, 30, captured the British ship London Packer, mounting 19 guns, and schooner Melpomene, mounting 6 guns, in company, from Gibraltar to Brazil with a cargoes of wine, brandy and corks. They at first indicated by their maneuvers a disposition to resist, but surrendered without firing a shot.

From the journal of the Chasseur, excerpted in Baltimore American, June 2, 1814. Maryland Historical Society.

Ap. 16th
Latt 50° 47′ N, Long 10° 41′ W. Captured Sweedish Ship Comereen, Lindgren, Master. Cargo, Oats and Barley, for the use of the English forces in Spain. Manned her for the US.

From the journal of the Privateer Armed Schooner Lawrence, April 16, 1814. Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 3, Number 2, June 1908, p. 171-176.

Commodore Joshua Barney: “Forty came on board the evening of the 13th. All drunk. & caused the greatest confusion”

On April 15, 1814, Commodore Joshua Barney again wrote to Secretary of the Navy William Jones describing Captain Robert T. Spence’s resistance to transferring his men to the Chesapeake Flotilla. Barney was even more upset when the men finally arrived but were so drunk he had to “[put] the most of them in Irons” and send seventeen others to the hospital.

Detail of a grog cup, U.S. Navy
Detail of a grog cup with the incised letters “CW” which archaeologists believe may be the initials of USS Scorpion’s cook Caesar Wentworth. Courtesy of NHHC UAB, Department of the Navy

Writing for the U.S.S. Constitution Museum in Feeding a Frigate, Commander Tyrone G. Martin describes how the United States Navy inherited the tradition of a twice daily “spirit ration” from the British Navy. Since the 1740s, British sailors had enjoyed a serving of rum mixed with an equal share of water. By mixing alcohol and water, Rear Admiral Edward “Old Grog” Vernon (credited with inventing the unusual cocktail) hoped to discourage binge drinking since the water made the rum unpalatable in a short time so sailors could not save up rations for later.

Around 1801, Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith experimented with substituting American sour mash bourbon for the traditional West Indies rum. Around the War of 1812, a Navy sailor would typically receive half their ration at noon and the remainder in the late afternoon after a meal. Sailors who passed on their ration for the day were credited with four cents on their account. Evidently, the sailors recruited by Captain Spence in Fell’s Point the exercised no such restraint.

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