By C. Herbert Gilliland
At the present time the twenty-gun sloop USS Constellation is a floating museum in Baltimore Harbor; in 1859 it was once a symbol of the worldwide strength of the yank crusing army. whilst younger William E. Leonard boarded the Constellation as a seaman for what proved to be a twenty-month voyage to the African coast, he started to compose a impressive journal.
Sailing from Boston, the Constellation, flagship of the U.S. African Squadron, used to be charged with the interception and seize of slave-trading vessels illegally en path from Africa to the Americas. in the course of the Constellation's deployment, the squadron captured a list variety of those ships, freeing their human shipment and keeping the captains and crews for legal prosecution. whilst, tensions at domestic and within the squadron elevated because the American Civil warfare approached and erupted in April 1861.
Leonard recorded not just historical occasions but additionally interesting information about his lifestyle as one of many approximately 400-member workforce. He observed himself as not only a diarist, yet a reporter, making unique efforts to search out and list information regarding person crewmen, shipboard practices, game and day-by-day routine--from deck swabbing and status watch to courts martial and dramatic performances by way of the Constellation Dramatic Society.
This good-humored gaze into the lives and fortunes of such a lot of males stationed aboard a extraordinary American warship makes Gilliland's version of Willie Leonard's magazine an important paintings of maritime historical past.
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Extra info for USS Constellation on the Dismal Coast: Willie Leonard’s Journal,1859-1861
Complaints having accumulated from the American press and especially from the British government, President James Buchanan and Secretary of the Navy Isaac Toucey were making significant changes. August 8th Cumberland sails for home This morning all hands scrubbed hammocks. At 9 o’clock went on board the Cumberland; she is getting ready for sea. m. we returned on board. m. the Cumberland hove up her anchor, and made sail. On passing us we gave her a salute of 13 guns which she returned, after which she manned her rigging and gave us three cheers, which we answered with a will, while our band played home sweet home.
July 5th Getting in provisions and water, our boat had a very narrow escape from being run over by the East Boston Ferry boat. One of our men was put in the brig for being drunk. July 6th The flag officer’s official boat (his barge, as an admiral’s boat was called) having been seriously damaged, substitutions occurred that affected Leonard. About thirty more recruits came on board from the Ohio. Our barge got stove, so they are using the ward room boat for a barge until she gets fixed and we are used as the ward room boat and go ashore two or three times a day.
They have already begun their applications and the ship is swarmed with them presenting their recommendations, (which they carry with them, slung around their necks in tin boxes) to our captain. They are a fine looking set of men. They now began to come a little faster than they were wanted and contrary to the orders of the 1st lieutenant they hung on to the ship’s side, and resisted all attempts to drive them off. That official, getting a little riled, ordered the carpenter’s mate to rig the force pump and have it manned, which being done he ordered the hose to be pointed at the (as he called them) Black Scorpions and such a scattering to get into their canoes which they made would have made a saint laugh.