Wooden Ships and Iron Men

and Plenty of Booze

On 23 August 1779, the USS Constitution set sail from Boston loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: to destroy and harass English shipping.

On 6 October, she made Jamaica, took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later the Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 6,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, the ship set sail for England where her crew captured and scuttled 12 English merchant vessels and took aboard their rum.

But the Constitution had run out of shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde for a night raid. Here her landing party captured a whiskey distillery, transferred 40,000 gallons aboard and headed for home.

On 20 February 1780, the Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no whiskey. Just 48,600 gallons of water.


3 Responses to “Wooden Ships and Iron Men”

  1. 1 Jon

    It should be noted that CONSTITUTION was launched 17 years AFTER the time frame of this story. So, fun story, but it’s fiction.

  2. 2 David

    Busted. It is an urban legend — but too fun not to repeat.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Ironsides for the story.

  1. 1 Maritime Monday 101 | gCaptain.com

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