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A Call to the Sea: Captain Charles Stewart of the USS Constitution

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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. No other captain commanded this ship for a longer wartime period or through 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.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The strength of A CALL TO THE SEA, the first and long-overdue full-scale biography of Charles Stewart, is the balanced treatment it gives to every period of this influential naval officer’s distinguished career, from his commissioning as lieutenant during the presidency of John Adams to his death as rear admiral during that of Ulysses S. Grant—while giving due attention to his command of USS Constitution during one of her famous victories in the War of 1812, for which he is best known. Berube and Rodgaard have limned a revealing portrait of a fascinating man in his private as well as public life.”

“No naval officer has served the nation longer or more faithfully than Charles Stewart. His biography is a virtual history of the Navy, from its founding in the Age of Sail to steam power in the Civil War. For more than six decades this extraordinary officer served his nation, living in the lee of his more famous contemporaries. Finally, Claude Berube and John Rodgaard have given this hero his due. His epic battle against Cyane and Levant, during which he skillfully maneuvered Constitution as if the great frigate was a sailboat on a pond, is a classic in naval history.”

“Readers of O'Brien, Forester, and Pope who are unfamiliar with the lives of the great sailors whose lives inspired those novels, have much to look forward to. They could well start with Berube and Rodgaard's life of Charles Stewart, an American naval hero whose battles and political dramas spanned the French, Barbary, 1812, and Civil wars. The authors have done the research yet not lost the spirit of a great tale of adventure.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574885187
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/31/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,120,898
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Claude Berube is a Brookings Institution LEGIS Fellow and a reserve officer in the U.S. Navy. His articles have appeared in Maine History, Naval History, and the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. He has worked in the U.S. Senate and for the Department of the Navy. He is currently an instructor in the Political Science Department at the U.S. Naval Academy. He lives in Annapolis, MD.

John Rodgaard has twenty years' experience as an intelligence analyst and is a captain and reserve intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy. A contributor to Proceedings and Naval History magazine, he also lives in the Washington D.C., area.

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