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Adapted from the biographical sketch for Isaac Chauncey, ZB Files, Navy Department Library, Naval History and Heritage Command.

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  • Biography
Wars & Conflicts
  • Barbary Wars 1801-1805, 1815
  • War of 1812 1812-1815
  • Quasi War with France 1798-1801
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Isaac Chauncey

20 February 1772 - 27 January 1840

Drawing of Commodore Isaac Chauncey, USN., by Albert Rosenthal.

Isaac Chauncey was born 20 February 1772 in Black Rock, Fairfield County, Connecticut. A citizen of and appointed from the state of New York.

On 11 June 1799 Mr Chauncey was appointed a Lieutenant in the US Navy, to date from 17 September 1798, and ordered to the US Frigate President building at New York. This vessel was launched in April 1800 and Lieutenant Chauncey continued to serve on her until 1802. Late in 1800 the President, under command of Captain Thomas Truxtun, sailed for the Guadaloupe Station to participate in the Naval War with France, which was still in progress. She returned to Norfolk in February 1801, after an uneventful cruise in which she took no French prizes but made a few recaptures. She sailed from Hampton Roads 1 June 1801 for the Mediterranean under command of Captain James Barron, as flagship of a squadron commanded by Commodore Richard Dale. The squadron was sent out for the protection of American commerce in anticipation of trouble with the Barbary Powers. The President left the Mediterranean in March 1802 and arrived at Norfolk 14 April.

In September 1802, Lieutenant Chauncey was ordered to the US Frigate John Adams, which sailed on 19th September to reinforce the squadron under Commodore Morris operating against the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean. Upon arrival on that station he was transferred to the USS Chesapeake as 1st lieutenant, subsequently to the USS New York. Lt. Chauncey returned to the United States late in 1803, but in March 1804 he was ordered to command the USS John Adams and prepare her for another cruise to the Mediterranean to carry provisions, stores and men out to the squadron. Lt. Chauncey was promoted to Master Commandant 18 May 1804. The John Adams sailed from Hampton Roads in June and arrived at Gibraltar 22 July. Since the vessel had sailed from Hampton Roads without her guns she was unable to participate in the fighting, but Commander Chauncey and his men volunteered their services on board the Constitution and took part in the attacks on Tripoli in August and September. Chauncey was highly commended by Commodore Edward Preble for his very able assistance on the quarter deck of the Constitution during the whole of the action. On 5 September the John Adams was ordered to deliver her stores at Malta and Syracuse and return to the United States. She left Gibraltar, with Commodore Preble on board, 8 January 1805 and arrived at New York on 25 February. Chauncey was detached from the vessel 16 April. He was included in the thanks of Congress to officers and men for their gallantry and good conduct displayed in the attacks on Tripoli.

From July 1805 to March 1806 Commander Chauncey was in command of the US Brig Hornet and cruised along the Atlantic coast in the squadron of Commodore Alexander Murray. He was promoted to Captain 24 April 1806. 13 March he was granted a furlough to make a merchant voyage, from which he returned in June 1807 and reported to the Department. On 13 July 1807 he was appointed Commandant of the New York Navy Yard, which position he held until September 1812 when he was appointed to command the naval forces on lake Ontario and Erie, with authority to purchase vessels, appoint officers, enlist seamen and buy naval stores. He arrived at Sackett's Harbor 6 October and established his headquarters at that place. Commodore Chauncey was especially distinguished for his service on the lakes during the War of 1812; he cooperated with the army in the capture of York (now Toronto) 24 April 1813 and Fort George 27 May 1813; and won an engagement with the British squadron under Commodore Yeo on 28 September 1813.

In May 1815 Commodore Chauncey was instructed to dispose of the fleet, naval stores, etc. at Sackett's Harbor and proceed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and assume command of the USS Washington. He entered on board this vessel 25 August, but it was not until 15 April 1816 that the Washington was ready for sea. Late in 1816 Commodore Chauncey sailed for the Mediterranean and, together with General William Shaler, negotiated a treaty with Algiers. In 1818 he turned over the command of the Mediterranean Squadron to Commodore Charles Stewart and returned to the United States, arriving at New York in July.

During 1819-1820 Commodore Chauncey was the commanding naval officer on the New York Station. In November 1820 he was appointed a Commissioner of the Navy and served in this capacity for four years. On 29 December 1824 he again assumed command of the New York Navy Yard and Station and continued in that position until 1834 when the President again appointed him a commissioner of the Navy Board from the 5th of June 1833. Commodore Chauncey remained on this duty until his death, serving the last three years of his life as President of the Board. He died 27 January 1840 at Washington, DC and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery.

Dates of Service

1799 11 June Appointed Lieutenant to rank from 17 September 1798. Commission dated 11 June 1799 on board the frigate building at New York.
  14 June Accepted.
1801 11 April Retained and ordered to remain on Board the President.
1802 15 May Furloughed.
  21 July Ordered to take command of the General Green.
  26 August Ordered as Recruiting Officer of the John Adams to proceed to New York.
  17 September Ordered to join the Chesapeake in the Mediterranean.
1803 13 January Joined the Chesapeake. Turned over to the New York.
  19 December Furloughed until called upon.
1804 8 March Ordered from New York to Washington to command the John Adams.
    Ordered to recruit in New York if the orders reached him there 21 March 1804.
  27 March Came to Washington.
  30 March Ordered to take command of the John Adams.
  31 March Ordered to New York to make contract.
  23 May Commissioned Master Commandant. Commission dated 18 May 1804 to rank number 4 of the Master's Commandant commissions on that day.
  21 May Delivered to him in person.
  22 November Confirmed by Senate. Commission dated 23 November 1804 to take rank from 23 May 1804. Sent to him at New York 15 March 1805.
1805 26 February Returned to New York, ordered to recruit.
  17 March Furloughed to East Indies or Europe when relieved by Master Commandant Shaw in command of John Adams.
  16 April Relieved by Master Commandant Shaw.
  25 April Ordered to Washington to settle his account.
  20 May Came to Washington.
  2 July Ordered to Baltimore to command Brig Hornet.
1806 18 February Relieved of command of Hornet by Master Commandant Dent. Commissioned Captain to rank from 24 April 1806. Sent to him at New York on same day.
  15 March Furloughed to East Indies.
1807 7 January Appointmnent of Captain confirmed by Senate.
  26 June Ordered to Hampton to act as member of Court of Inquiry.
  11 July Ordered from Washington to New York to command Navy Yard.
  12 September Appointed member of Court of Inquiry and ordered to Norfolk.
1808 22 November Ordered to Washington to act on Court of Inquiry.
    Records incomplete - the following taken fron Navy Registers.
  1815 USS Washington.
  1817 Mediterranean
  1818 USS Washington.
  1819 USS Washington.
  1820 USS Washington.
  1821-24 Navy Commissioner.
  1826 Navy Yard, Brooklyn.
1818 10 December Ordered from New York to Washington to settle accounts.
1819 18 February Ordered hence to New York to resume command of Washington.
  17 May Permitted to be absent on private business.
  27 December Ordered from New York here to settle accounts.
1820 11 February Ordered hence to New York.
  30 November Commissioner.
1824 21 December Ordered hence to New York to command Navy Yard.
1827 21 April New York to Washington for examination of Navy Yard and etc.
  24 October Court Martial, Philadelphia.
1832 27 December Leave from New York Station extended to 15 January.
1833 5 June Appointed Navy Commissioner.
1834 10 January Commission as member of the Navy Board confirmed by Senate, 5 June 1833.
1840 27 January Died in Washington, DC.

Source: Adapted from the biographical sketch for Isaac Chauncey, ZB Files, Navy Department Library, Naval History and Heritage Command.

Related Resources: Manuscripts in the Navy Department Library Collection:

1) Autographed letter signed dated 9 February 1814, New York. To Commodore Bainbridge. Requesting assignment of an officer to Boston to recruit seamen for service on "the Lakes." War of 1812 content.

2) Four autographed letters signed. Three as Commander of the Navy Yard, New York 1826, 1827 and 1833). The fourth to Commodore Stewart at the Philadelphia Navy Yard dated 4 June 1839 regarding the Secretary of the Navy's direction to build a steamship.

3) Autographed document signed dated 5 May 1838, Navy Commissioner's Office. Outlines procedures for the requisition of rigging from the Rope Walk at the Charleston Navy Yard.


Published: Thu Nov 12 08:31:51 EST 2020