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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Rebel Shore

James M. Merrill

published by
Little, Brown and Company
Boston • Toronto

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p234  Bibliographical Essay

A research trip is challenging, stimulating. Materials are scattered across the nation. They are cluttered in must attics, housed majestically in stately air‑conditioned rooms, or hoarded behind bars guarded by uniformed police. The librarians and archivists are kind, considerate, and eager to serve.

To hunt down the letters, books, pamphlets, and newspapers, the historian risks heat prostration in Washington, strabismus from reading microfilm, ulcers from gobbling hasty sandwiches, slipped disks and muscle cramps from toting boxes stuffed with memorabilia. He becomes expert on bus and rail schedules, an authority on sleeping bolt upright in chair cars. He pays out a small fortune in cleaning bills and microfilm.

Manuscript material for Civil War naval operations is staggering. The traditional collections in the Library of Congress include those of Gideon Welles, Louis Goldsborough, Andrew Hull Foote, Benjamin F. Butler, John Ericsson, David D. Porter, John A. Dahlgren, and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Alexander Bache. The John Rodgers letters, a rich source of almost daily notations, give insight into the personalities, the problems, and the routine of the war at sea. Two other excellent but little known collections in the Library of Congress are the papers of Joseph Bloomfield Osborn, an ordinary seaman on board  p235 Vanderbilt, and of Daniel Reed Larned, an aide to General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Burnside on the Roanoke Island expedition. Discovered in the Blair Family Papers, the manuscript diary of Mrs. Virginia Woodbury Fox, wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, is illuminating.

The National Archives holds the official records of naval operations, the battle reports, letters from flag officers, captains, and other officers, ships' logs, journals, court-martial proceedings, and bills of lading. A large percentage of this material has been published in the Official Records. In the Foreign Affairs Section, the consular correspondence from Nassau and other ports of the West Indies is helpful regarding blockade-running activities.

Perhaps the most significant manuscript collection is the papers of Gustavus Vasa Fox in the New York Historical Society. Personal letters from commanders afloat and ashore help form an accurate picture of the Navy in action. The papers of Percival Drayton, the monitor skipper, and the manuscript journal of Bartholomew Diggins, which records the daily events of Farragut's flagship, Hartford, are in the New York Public Library.

There are several collections in New England depositories. The Charles Barker and H. E. Valentine papers, dealing with the Roanoke Island operation, are housed in the Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts.

The Princeton University Library holds the Samuel Phillips Lee Papers, most of which, however, are official and, therefore, reprinted in the Official Records

At the Longwood Foundation, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the Samuel Francis Du Pont letters describe  p236 the tensions, fruitions, and the fears of a blockade commander.

Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and the state archives at Raleigh contain fine collections. The manuscript letters of North Carolinians, public and private, civilian and military, underscore the demoralizing effect of Union amphibious assaults on the residents of the Old North State. A valuable source at Duke for Union naval operations is the letters of Franklin E. Smith, an officer on board a blockader off the Carolina coast.

The Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, California, has scattered letters from Welles, Farragut, Porter, and Bache in its various collections.

The list of published United States Government documents relating the time of Civil War is too long to be detailed. The most important sources for operational history are Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, and A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. The "Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War," Senate Report, No. 142, 38 Cong., 2 sess., is essential for the Fort Fisher campaign.

Newspapers and periodicals are vital sources. The New York Times and Tribune, Baltimore American, and Chicago Times had, on occasion, correspondents stationed with the squadrons. They dispatched daily or weekly letters to their newspapers giving general impressions and detailed the day-to‑day activities of the ships. The Boston Post and Evening Traveller, Washington Intelligencer, Philadelphia Public Ledger, Richmond  p237 Whig, Examiner, Enquirer, and Dispatch, New Orleans Picayune, Charleston Mercury and Courier, Raleigh North Carolina Standard, and Savannah News also provide coverage of amphibious assaults. Noteworthy periodicals include The United States Army and Navy Journal, Harper's Weekly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, North American Review, and Continental Monthly.

Written by the principals, the published memoirs and journals, diaries and letters are many and varied. In addition to the traditional works, of which Gideon Welles's Diary and his articles in Galaxy are paramount, there are lesser known works of merit: Edgar S. MacClay's Reminiscences, especially useful for the supply service; Amos Burton's A Journal of the Cruise of the U. S. Ship Susquehanna; Charles A. Post's "A Diary on the Blockade," in United States Naval Institute Proceedings, XLIV (1918); I. E. Vail's Three Years in the Blockade; and Kent Packard's "Jottings on the Way," in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, LXXI (1947).

Researchers should also consult Battles and Leaders, Moore's Rebellion Record, regimental histories, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion series, Rhode Island's soldiers' and sailors' Personal Narratives, the Southern Historical Society Papers, the Historical Society of Massachusetts Papers, Confederate Veteran, and The United Service.

Helpful are the numerous biographies, monographs, and articles dealing with Civil War naval operations: Charles B. Boynton, The History of the Navy During  p238 the Rebellion (1867), 2 vols; Robert W. Daly, "Pay and Prize Money in the Old Navy, 1776‑1889," United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LXXIV (1948); Henry A. Du Pont, Rear-Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont (1926); Carlos C. Hanks, "Mines of Long Ago," United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LXVI (1940); Jim Dan Hill, Sea Dogs of the Sixties (1935); Charles L. Lewis, David Glasgow Farragut (1943), 2 vols.; James M. Merrill, "Men, Monotony, and Mouldy Beans — Life on Board Civil War Blockaders," The American Neptune, XVI (1956); " The Hatteras Expedition," The North Carolina Historical Review, XXIX (1952), and "The Battle for Elizabeth City," LXXXIII, United States Naval Institute Proceedings (1957); Walter Millis, "The Iron Sea Elephants," The American Neptune, X (1950); Charles Oscar Paullin, "President Lincoln and the Navy," The American Historical Review, XIV (1909); Marcus Price, "Ships that Tested the Blockade of the Carolina Ports" and "Blockade Running as a Business in South Carolina": The American Neptune, VIII, IX (1948, 1949); James G. Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction (1937); William M. Robinson, The Confederate Privateers (1928); J. Thomas Scharf, History of the Confederate States Navy (1887); James R. Soley, The Blockade and Cruisers (1887); Harold and Margaret Sprout, The Rise of American Naval Power (1939); David W. Thompson, "Three Confederate Submarines," United States Naval Institute Proceedings, LVII (1941); Frank E. Vandiver, Confederate Blockade Running Through Bermuda (1947); and Richard S. West, Gideon Welles (1943) and David Dixon Porter (1937).

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Page updated: 3 Jan 18