Archive Logo.jpg

August 09, 2005

Enlisted Retention, 18th Century-Style...

...stuff that you'll only find in the archives of Strategypage. Ummm--or here.

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, Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 6,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

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

By this time, 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 and no whiskey. She did, however, still carry her crew of 475 officers and men and 48,600 gallons of water.

The math is quite enlightening:
-- Length of cruise: 181 days
-- Booze consumption: 2.26 gallons per man per day (this does NOT include the unknown quantify of rum captured from the 12 English merchant vessels in November).

Naval historians guestimate the re-enlistment rate from this cruise to be 100%.

It's always been my contention that the quality of Navy chow started to increase when the availability of onboard methanol started to decrease. Unfortunately, the Army didn't pick up on that idea...