Preble's Boys

Isaac Hull

9 Mar 1773-13 Feb 1843

Isaac Hull's introduction to the navy was through his uncle, William Hull, who was a Connecticut politician who became famous in the War of 1812 (or perhaps infamous). Isaac Hull's first ship was the Constitution, where he served as a fourth lieutenant under Silas Talbot. He cruised in the Caribbean from 1799 till 1801. 

In 1802, Hull headed to the Mediterranean as first lieutenant of the Adams and then was given his first command on the Enterprise. In 1803, Stephen Decatur delivered Hull's new command: the Argus. Hull commanded the Argus for three years, cruising in the Mediterranean with Edward Preble. His most important role there was as support for the marine expedition of William Eaton. While commanding the Argus, Hull was promoted to master commandant in 1804 and then to captain in 1806. 

Hull, as all his fellows, superintended gunboat construction from the time he returned to the United States till 1809. He got his first frigate command (the Chesapeake) in 1809, and then in 1810 he took command of the Constitution, a ship he commanded for two years. In August 1812, he encountered the HMS Guerriere; when the battle was joined, it took less than an hour for the firepower of Hull's highly trained crew to destroy the Guerriere.

This victory was the first time a British warship had struck to an American warship, so the news was very welcome in Washington, especially since Hull's uncle, William Hull, had just suffered a major defeat in Canada. As a result of the victory, Hull was given command of the Portsmouth Navy Yard.

After the war, Hull was appointed to the Board of Navy Commissioners, but he soon took command of the Boston Navy Yard, an appointment fraught with controversy. From 1823-27, he commanded a squadron off South America; he returned to the United States to become commandant of the Washington Navy Yard in 1829.

Hull's last sea service was in the Mediterranean, where he commanded a squadron from the Ohio. He died in 1843 in Philadelphia.