Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Isaac Hull

U.S. Navy

Isaac Hull (March 9, 1773 - February 13, 1843) was a Commodore in the United States Navy. He commanded several famous US naval ships including the USS Constitution and saw service in the Quasi War, the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. In the latter part of his career he was commander of the Washington Navy Yard, and later the Mediterranean Squadron.

Early Life

Isaac Hull was born in Derby, Connecticut (some sources say Huntington, now Shelton, Connecticute, on March 9, 1773. Early in life he joined his mariner father, Joseph, on local voyages and longer trips to the West Indies. After his father died while still young, Isaac was adopted by his uncle William Hull, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War.

During the mid-1790s, the young Hull commanded several merchant vessels, losing some to French privateers.

Naval Service

He was commissioned a Lieutenant in the newly-formed United States Navy in March 1798 and distinguished himself during the next two years while serving on board the frigate Constitution in the Quasi-War with France.

First Barbary War

When troubles with the Barbary states heated up in 1802, he went to the Mediterranean as First Lieutenant of the frigate Adams. Hull later commanded the schooner Enterprise and the brig Argus, receiving promotion to the rank of Master Commandant in 1804 and to Captain in 1806. During the next few years, he supervised the construction of gunboats and, in 1809 and 1810, was successively given command of the frigates, Chesapeake, President and Constitution.

Command of Chesapeake

In 1809 Hull briefly commanded the USS Chesapeake.

Command of Constitution

Isaac Hull assumed command of the USS Constitution in June of 1810 Captain Hull's time on the Constitution was eventful. He took the ship on a European cruise in 1811-1812, returning home before the War of 1812 broke out between the United States and Great Britain. An enemy squadron closely pursued his ship off the East Coast in July, but Hull skillfully evaded them. On August 19, 1812, Constitution encountered the British frigate HMS Guerriere at sea and pounded her to a wreck in an action that electrified the Nation and demonstrated that the small U.S. Navy was a worthy and dangerous opponent for Britain's otherwise overwhelming maritime might. During the climax of the war, Hull and the USS Constitution were sent to a string of islands. He there caught two British ships in a chase, and both those ships were taken to Boston and put into U.S. service.

Hull commanded the Portsmouth Navy Yard at Kittery, Maine, for the rest of the War of 1812, then briefly served on the Board of Navy Commissioners in Washington, D.C. before taking over leadership of the Boston Navy Yard. During 1823-1827, he commanded the Pacific Squadron operating out of South America. Commodore Hull's next assignment, as Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard, ran from 1829 until 1835. Between 1839 and 1841, he commanded the Mediterranean Squadron.

Rendered unfit for further service by age and ill health, he spent the next two years on leave. Commodore Isaac Hull died at the age of 69 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is buried there in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Namesakes and honors

The U.S. Navy has named five ships in honor of Isaac Hull, including: USS Commodore Hull (1862-1865); USS Hull (Destroyer #7); USS Hull (DD-330); USS Hull (DD-350); and USS Hull (DD-945).

The Commodore Isaac Hull Memorial Bridge spanning the Housatonic River between Derby and Shelton is named after him.