Charles Ingraham went off to sea as a privateer during the War of 1812 and it almost ruined him. It didn’t kill him, though. Something else did.
Charles was the son of Joseph and Bradbury Ingraham, pioneers who settled on 210 acres bordering Rockland Harbor in the late 18th century. Joseph farmed and raised livestock, burned lime, built a landing and served as justice of the peace, selectman and town clerk.
Joseph met his wife through her father, who he met while walking home from the Battle of Castine.
Charles’ brother Henry began keeping a diary when he was 13. His father kept one too. The two of them kept diaries from 1795 to 1875.
Henry’s diary includes firsthand accounts of the War of 1812, which broke out June 18, 1812, when Henry was just 15.
‘very Dark times in our national affairs,’ Henry wrote on May 21, 1812.
On July 4, 1812, Henry, then 15, wrote that Charles, then 19, wanted to go to ‘Destruction or privateering.’
On July 31, 1812, Charles entered on board the privateer Dart under the command of Capt. Curtis. Their parents were very much against Charles going. ‘He is a poor fellow inexperiencd knows but Litle what a place he has put himself in. But we hope for the Best,’ wrote Henry.
Charles, the Wicked Privateer
Despite several scares about privateers being taken by the British, Charles returned home from privateering on Sept. 14, 1812. A few days later Henry reported Charles ‘went up to the Store,’ where he drank and swore. ‘wicked Boy allmost ruined – having his own way & going a privateering,’ wrote Henry.
Charles then joined on with another privateer, the Growler, which saw action that killed two men and a boy and injured six. Henry reported the battle on March 1, 1813. The family didn’t learn Charles was safe in Boston for another nine days.
Charles came home for good Nov. 20, 1813. Six months later, he drowned in Penobscot Bay.
On May 9, 1814, Henry Ingraham wrote:
Monday May 9th  we have Dismal news that my poor Brother Charles & Isaa Spear And Edward Robinson Are all Dronded poor Charles has Been at Home allmost Six month he came home the 20th November.
(Charles’ grave is at Tolman Cemetery on Lake Ave. in Rockland.)
With thanks to Red Barn Publishing. This story updated in 2022.