A Call to the Sea: Captain Charles Stewart of the USS Constitution (Google eBook)
Charles Stewart's life of sailing and combat on the high seas rivals that of Patrick O'Brien's fictional hero, Jack Aubrey. Stewart held more sea commands (11) than any other U.S. Navy captain and served longer (63 years) than any officer in American naval history. He commanded every type of warship, from sloop to ship-of-the-line, and served every president from John Adams to Abraham Lincoln. Born in Philadelphia during the American Revolution, Stewart met President Washington and went to sea as a cabin boy on a merchantman before age thirteen. In March 1798, at age nineteen, he received a naval commission one month before the Department of the Navy was established. Stewart went on to an illustrious naval career: Thomas Jefferson recognized his Mediterranean exploits during the Barbary Wars, Stewart advised James Madison at the outset of the War of 1812, and Stewart trained many future senior naval officers - including David Porter, David Dixon Porter, and David G. Farragut - in three wars. He served as a pallbearer at President Lincoln's funeral. Stewart cemented his reputation as commander of the Navy's most powerful frigate, the USS Constitution. more naval engagements. Undefeated in battle, including defeating the British warships Cyane and Levant simultaneously, both ship and captain came to be known as Old Ironsides. Few sailors in U.S. history approach Stewart's length of service to the Navy. In 1798, at the age of nineteen, he was commissioned a lieutenant on board the frigate USS United States. Eight years later he was promoted to captain. He would continue to serve throughout the nineteenth century, surrendering his final command of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1860, but in 1861 offering to serve yet again when the Union was threatened by secession... No captain of the Constitution--arguably the most famous American warship in U.S. history--commanded her for a longer period in war not through more naval engagements than Charles Stewart, who would in his own lifetime also come to be known by the Constitution's moniker--'Old Ironsides.' His ability to survive controversy and surmount disappointment and setbacks mirrored the Constitution's ability to repel enemy shot off her hull. Berube and John Rodgaard have produced the first full-length biography of one of the US Navy's earliest heroes.
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Page vii - And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.