The Captain's Clerk 
A Library of Congress online historical collection




USS Constitution
John Charles Roach


Welcome to an archive specifically created to contain historically accurate stories and other information on that fabled frigate, the USS Constitution  ("Old Ironsides"). Please feel free to browse.


Your obedient servant,
The Captain's Clerk


Please Note
Some of these files are quite large and will
take a little time to open in your browser.

The Captain's Clerk

A Database of Naval History. Contains a little of everything about the History of the Navy.

The Captain Speaks

In these articles, a commanding officer of USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") writes
about some of the important moments in her history and about life aboard the famous
frigate. These are pamphlets that may be printed out for your use.

USS Constitution Data

Basic Statistical information about the ship.

Commanders of the USS Constitution

Basic information about each who commanded the ship.

The Ship's Calendar

This shows the history for each month of the year by day for all
the years that this ship has been in existence!

The Ship's Logs

"Notes" and "Quotes" from the Ship's Logs in the National Archives


It was customary, in the early Navy, to require all midshipmen to maintain journals as a way for them to learn the proper way to keep a ship's log. Most midshipmen responded merely by copying the pages from the log of the ship to which they were assigned, but some went beyond that and the result is a unique source of information not found in any official documentation. Included here is material from more than two dozen such works, including some by more senior officers and by enlisted personnel.


In her more than eight decades of regular service, Constitution
voyaged around the world, calling at many ports.
Some, she visited often; others, only once.


Newspapers and Magazines

From the early years starting in 1794 and moving forward. 
Also included is the Elliott Court-Martial of 1839-1840.


"Memoires," as used here, refers to a group of documents concerning the ship that were written weeks, months, years - even decades - after the events they record. As a result, less than total recall comes into play and not everything can be taken as true. Nonetheless, these efforts offer unique, personal recollections by persons directly involved in the events recorded, and so add at last "texture" to our knowledge of these matters. "Notes" and "quotes" again have been employed both to save research time and to reduce excessive repetition.


Constitution is an offspring of the Congress.  She was created and manned by that body, then maintained, sustained, and directed by legislation.  Collected and transcribed here are the laws that applied during her days of front-line service - until 1855.

The USS Constitution ~ A Visual Record

For the first century of her service, a multitude of artist of varying skill sought to portray Constitution in historical context. Some sought historical accuracy, others sought an impression, and many were thrilled with her story and did their best regardless of talent. Beginning in the 1850s, the camera began taking a more critical eye and it is possible to view the ship in ever greater detail. Present here is a collection of images of the ship, together with critical comments, as appropriate.

Captains In Court

The major legal action in the Navy always has been the general court-martial.  In practice, such a court is preceded by a court of inquiry that determines if an alleged offense is, in fact, present and prosecutable.  In her long history, "Old Ironsides" has had two captains who have been involved in the process, one who was the subject of a court of inquiry and another was court-martialled.  Detailed records of the cases is presented here.

National Archives Microfilm Series

The National Archives in Washington, DC, has copied hundreds of thousands of its documents onto microfilm and assembled them into useful categories.  A number of these series are related to the creation and operation of the U. S. Navy from its earliest days.  Many of these have been researched and the material relating to USS Constitution assembled here. Particularly pertinent documents are transcribed verbatim; routine administrative correspondence has been paraphrased to save space.

Ship's Company

Records of more than 15,000 sailors who have served in or on "Old Ironsides," mainly before 1934, are on file.

If you have a family member tradition says was on board "Old Ironsides", and you would like to confirm it, send the individual's name and any other information you have, like approximate time of service, to the address below, a check will be made, and you will be notified.

Please use this email address for request of above information: 

The Lucky Bag

Time and again, professional and vocational historians, artists, model makers, and others, have sought out information -- or have argued -- about many items of what should be information basic to an understanding of the environment of the sailing navy: How many provisions were carried for a six-month cruise? What did an ammunition load out consist of? What were the dimensions of a rammer? And on and on and on. There follows here a "lucky bag," a randomly collected compilation, of such information gleaned from more than twenty years of poring over contemporary documentation and recording same in The Captain's Clerk. Much of it is derived from materials relating to USS Constitution. It is a "working document," and by no means complete.


Throughout her career, Constitution has been the subject of poems and songs. Some political, some dignified, most intensely proud and patriotic. Some can still be sung with confidence, as with The Constitution long shall be the glory of our Navy, to the tune of Yankee Doodle. Presented here is a representative collection, by no means complete, of such poetical efforts beginning in the year of her launch, 1797.

Some USS Constitution Sites worth visiting

These sites have even more information on this mighty fine ship!

Books, Videos, Music, Etc.

Just what the title says! 

Graphics of the Ship

Pictures / Paintings of the ship!  Yes these are for sale as well if interested.

Special Photos of the Ship

Pictures are from the Internet and all of the photos are clickable and in the public domain.

USS Constitution Today

The official web site of the USS Constitution


All Pages are © by Timonier Publications

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