Long has it waved on high, And many an eye has danced to see That banner in the sky; Beneath it rung the battle shout, And burst the cannon’s roar; The meteor of the ocean air…


Mad Jack Percival : legend of the old Navy    Annapolis, Md. : Naval Institute Press, c 2002   James H. Ellis United States. Navy Officers Biography,  Percival, John, 1779-1862 Hardcover. Library of naval biography xxv, 242 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 217-228) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and it is one of the most restored. Percival was responsible for the first restoration and subsequent circumnavigation.

John Percival, was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts on the 3rd April 1779 and served in the Quasi War with France as a midshipman and master’s mate before entering the merchant service. He was impressed by the Portuguese and was sent to HMS Victory where he took place in the Battle of Trafalgar. When put in command of a Spanish prize, Percival, he took her to Madeira where he escaped to USS Washington.

In 1809 he was assigned to USS Siren, part of the New York flotilla under Capt. Jacob Lewis. He served in the gunboat Yankee in 1812, but was using a fishing boat when he captured HMS Eagle on the 4th of July 1812. Percival joined USS Peacock on the 9th of March 1814 and made three cruises capturing fourteen merchantmen and two warships, HMS Elsevier and Nautilus. For his gallantry in the capture of HMS Elsevier, he was promoted to Lieutenant and given the thanks of Congress.

Not finished yet in 1826 he took the USS Dolphin to the Pacific to track down the mutineers on the whaleship Globe. Finally he saved the eagle of the sea, the USS Constitution, from the harpies of the shore and took her on the only voyage where she circumnavigated the globe in 1844-46. If anybody deserved a sea chantey named after them John Percival did and the group Schooner Fare obliged with the Ballad of Mad Jack.

As late as the first world war a grateful nation still remembered the derring do of Mad Jack and named the old four stack destroyer USS Percival [DD298] in his honor – photograph from the Naval Historical Center

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