Ships That Passed in History

My ancestors and I both found out what it was like to step aboard a frigate.

One of the highlights of Henry Rogers’ travel journal was his description of a ship under construction in the Frigate House at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

That ship was later christened the USS Dale, and would be among the last sailing vessels of war constructed in the United States. Dale was launched on October 8, 1839, and was first based in Valparaiso, Chile, to protect commerce and the whaling trade. Through the years, Dale’s service in the Mexican War, made three cruises to Africa to suppress the slave trade, joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron during the Civil War, and was later reassigned as a training ship at the US Naval Academy, then transferred to the Maryland Naval Militia, and finally to the Coast Guard at Baltimore in 1906.

When Keri and I followed Henry’s route 165 years later, we detoured off his path to spend two days visiting my sister and her family in Baltimore. We went to Inner Harbor, where we toured the USS Constellation, which is on display there. This was the second Constellation, built in 1854, but restored and reconfigured in 1999 to resemble the original Constellation, built in 1797. By touring that ship, I was able to imagine what it might have been like aboard the Dale.

Sometime after Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More was released, I came across a photograph, taken at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Navy Yard in 1886. The Constellation and the Dale just happened to be moored next to one another, and I marveled that those two ships, both important to me, had been next-door neighbors at one time in their lives.

The ships are, from left to right, the Constellation, the Dale, and the Tallapoosa.

Constellation Dale Tallapoosa Constitution housed over

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