Drunken sailors

By Thomas Macauley on

I found this in the library stacks at UC Berkeley in 1988:

From “Starving Sailors: The Influence of Nutrition Upon Naval Maritime History.” National Maritime Museum, 1981 (Bristol, UK) Watt, Freemand, and Bynum, editors

“…I should like to give you a little naval history which might induce us to think that present-day sailors are really rather abstemious.
“ In the U.S. Naval Archives, there is an account of the voyage of the U.S.S. Constitution, which set sail from Boston on 23 August 1779 with 475 officers and men with a mission to destroy and harass English shipping. She was victualled with 48,600 gallons of fresh water, some ship biscuit and beef, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 lb of black powder, and 79,400 gallons of rum. She made Jamaica on 6 October and took on board 862 lb flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. She then headed for the Azores, arriving on 12 November, and was provisioned with 550 lb beef and 64,300 gallons Portuguese wine. On 18 November she set sail for England and, in the ensuing days, defeated 5 British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchantmen, salvaging only their rum. By 27 January her powder and shot were exhausted. Unarmed she made a raid up the Firth of Clyde and her landing party captured a whisky distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons on board by dawn. She then headed home and arrived in Boston harbour on 20 February 1780, six months after raising anchor, with no cannon shot, no powder, no food, no rum, no whiskey, but with 48,600 gallons of stagnant water.”

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