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This Month in Naval History


John Cushing Aylwin-born in Quebec, Canada, on 14 June 1778-worked on board British naval vessels at an early age. Though never formally enrolled in the Royal Navy, he received increasing responsibilities eventually performing the duties of a mate by 1795. He refused the offer of a midshipman's warrant but continued service at sea-apparently against his will-for another six years. III health, however, finally brought about his return home. Then, for several years, he commanded merchant ships out of Boston. When war between the United States and Great Britain broke out in 1812, Aylwin received an appointment as a lieutenant in the Navy and became sailing master in Constitution. He received commendations for his gallantry during that frigate's engagement with HMS Guerriere on 19 August 1812. Lt. Aylwin took part in the battle between Constitution and HMS Java on 29 December 1812. Severely wounded during that encounter, Aylwin later died at sea.


(Galley: t. 40 (approx.); cpl. 26; a. 1 long 12-pdr.)

The first Aylwin-a small galley built on Lake Champlain in 1813- was a unit of Commodore Thomas Macdonough's squadron during the Battle of Lake Champlain fought on 11 September 1814. By retaining control of the lake, she and her squadron mates closed an important avenue of invasion to British forces in Canada. Aylwin continued to serve on Lake Champlain through the end of the war early in 1815. She was sold at Whitehall, N.Y., in July 1815.


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