“Welcome aboard sailor!

Put your sea legs on and join our crew. As one of over 400 sailors you are expected to do WHAT you are told WHEN you are told. Do your job promptly and cheerfully and you will do well. If not…don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
Officer showing Sailor what shirt he needs to buy

“You're a sailor now. Dress the part.

Here’s your packing list:

2 shirts, 2 jackets, 1 red or white waistcoat (vest), 3 pants, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 hats.”

Without an officially regulated uniform in 1812, sailors wore clothing well suited to their occupation. They “shifted” or changed their clothes weekly, and mended what they could. When the clothes wore out, the purser sold them replacements.

Purser Thomas CHew

“As purser, I run the ship's store.

If you’re wanting for something come to me. I’ll sell you anything from clothes to keep you warm to mustard, chocolate, tea, sugar, or tobacco to ease the little miseries of sea life. Remember, whatever you buy gets deducted from your pay.”

Ship's Store


Wool Hat


No respectable person goes without a hat.



A uniform essential, you have to wear it for inspection and muster.




Saves the toes from bumps and frostbite.     


Red Vest


An extra layer of warmth, an extra touch of class.

Checked Linen Shirt


With its repeating patterns, this shirt won’t show the dirt.


Two Shirts


A second shirt to wear while the other is drying.

Linen Pants

Linen Pants


Paint, tar, or grease? Wear these if you please.

Wool Pants

Wool Pants


Sturdy and warm, they must be paired with your jacket for muster.

Personal Hygiene

Needle and Thread

Needle & Thread


Sew, sew, sew your coat.




A filthy sailor is an unhappy sailor.

Shaving Razor

Shaving Razor


You’ll need a clean shave for inspection and muster.

Luxury Items



$0.37½ per lb

For mixing up a warm drink.



$1.80 per lb

It keeps you warm and healthy – or so says the surgeon.

Pipe & Tobacco


$0.30 per lb

If you want any tobacco you will have to pay for it.



$0.28 per lb

A luxury for those who can afford it.

Sailor vs. Officer Clothing

The distinctive clothing you wore on board ship reflected who you were and the work you did.

What would you rather wear?

Why would sailors and officers wear different clothing?

John Demarest, Marine Private

Demarest is my name. I found I couldn't make a living as a farmer in New Jersey so I joined the Marines in 1811. Now I've got a fancy suit of clothes and three meals a day - all at government expense!

I'm 30 years old and stand 6 foot 3 inches tall.

Isaac Hull, Captain

I am Captain Isaac Hull from Derby, Connecticut. I first went to sea as a young boy on board merchant ships. When I was 26, I joined the Navy and became one of Constitution’s lieutenants. Now, 13 years later, I stand here in command of my favorite frigate.

Thomas Chew, Purser

Thomas John Chew at your service. I was born in New London, Connecticut and became a purser in the Navy at age 32. Three years later, in 1812, I find myself aboard Constitution with my good friend Captain Isaac Hull commanding.

A Ranked Society

Of the 485 sailors aboard for each cruise, about two thirds were enlisted sailors, another 60 were Marines, and the rest were commissioned, warrant, or petty officers. Each rank and rate carried specific responsibilities to help the ship function efficiently at times of peace and war.



I am the captain! How impertinent of you to ask what I do!



There are a half dozen of us senior and junior lieutenants on board. Though we take our orders from the captain, as commissioned officers we are in charge of the day-to-day command of the ship.

Warrant Officer

Other Commissioned Officers

The captain and lieutenants aren’t the only commissioned officers on board. As purser, I’m the ship’s banker and store manager. There’s also a naval surgeon and surgeon’s mate who keep the crew fit and free of disease.

Petty Officer

Warrant Officers

As warrant officers, we are expert specialists with the authority to direct operations. I’m one of several midshipmen. There’s also a chaplain, sailing master, sailmaker, carpenter, gunner, boatswain, and captain’s clerk among us.


Petty Officers

We petty officers assist the senior officers on board. I’m the cook. There’s also a ship’s corporal, master-at-arms, quartermaster, master’s mate, steward, coxswain, boatswain’s mate, boatswain’s yeoman, gunner’s mate, quarter gunner, armorer, gunner’s yeoman, carpenter’s mate, cooper, carpenter’s yeoman, and sailmaker’s mate.

Able Seaman

Able Seamen

There are 276 of us on board. We’re all dedicated and experienced sailors. It’s our skills that keep the ship sailing, and our bravery that ensures victory in battle.

Ordinary Seaman

Ordinary Seamen

We are still learning our trade. All 55 of us are volunteers, of course, and what we lack in experience we make up for in strength and valor.



There’s a dozen of us boys on board. We’re the lowest rank of seamen and do much of the grunt work, but in battle each of us has a job that’s vital to victory.

Marine Officers

We have our own organization. There are two Marine lieutenants, two Marine sergeants, four Marine corporals, a fifer, and a drummer.

Marine Private


We are Marine privates, and our job is to police and defend this fine ship and pick off the enemy with our trusty muskets.

Captain Isaac Hull

“When dressed in full uniform …

… I carry items reflective of my standing as an officer and a gentleman. Especially significant are my sword that hangs on my left side, my gold watch tucked in my pocket, and my personal seal that dangles from a ribbon for all to see.”

Isaac Hull's Dress Sword and Scabbard

"I feel very connected to my sword; it is deeply personal to me. I can use it to defend myself if necessary but it is more than a weapon, it is a symbol of what I have achieved."

USS Constitution Museum Collection, 2061.1-2.

Isaac Hull's Pocket Watch

"This watch, made for me in London, was entirely hand crafted and extremely expensive. It takes constant winding and doesn’t always work. But I find it a necessary and decorative accessory befitting a gentleman."

On loan to the USS Constitution Museum from a Private Collection.

Isaac Hull's Spectacles

"As I get older, I need these spectacles to read official letters and see the details of navigational charts."

On loan to the USS Constitution Museum from a Private Collection.

Today's Crew: What is it like to be a captain?