The official war of 1812 bicentennial website - Celebrating 200 years of peace
Historic Sites & Museums

Gun deck:

1. Leather powder bucket marked “Washington Navy Yard, 1802.” The bucket was used on Constitution until the rebuilding of the ship in 1927.


Leather powder bucket from the USS ConstitutionLeather powder bucket from the USS Constitution

1. One crewman wields a handspike to turn the gun towards the target, while the Captain of an adjacent crew yanks a lanyard to discharge his gun. A third crew loads its gun: one man inserting a powder charge, another standing by to ram it home, while a third is poised with a pick to puncture the cotton powder bag prior to lighting off the charge. A powder monkey runs past while another sailor reaches for a cannonball in a rack next to a barrel of hand weapons. Only the presence of a tophatted Royal Marine indicates a British rather than an American ship.


British Ship, War of 1812

2. Powder monkeys receive powder bag through a safety curtain of wet blankets. Inserting them in leather “salt boxes” they sprint up the ladder to the guns. A British marine stands guard to prevent anyone from deserting his duty.


Royal Marine and powder monkey

1. While crewmen rig a 12-pounder located in the captain’s cabin, other sailors carry the captain’s furniture below and dismantle the bulkheads, which would hinder operation on the gun deck during battle.

War of 1812, Captian's cabin

2. Topmen furl the sail of the mainmast while a squad of British marines takes up their position on the fighting top. Other men pass a swivel gun up through the lubber hole. Similar scenes would be repeated on American frigates on the eve of sea battles.


Royal Marines on a ship, War of 1812


war of 1812 Celebrating 200 years of peace