1861-1872. Original archive. Hardcover. This archive includes a bound volume and several leaves of a handwritten, personal diary in the form of a ship’s logbook kept by US Navy officer Robert W. McCleery, starting at New York on September 30, 1871 and ending in November, 1872. Also present: a photographic carte-de-visite of McCleery, a couple of Civil War-era telegrams, a family letter, several pieces of paper ephemera found tipped-in or laid into the log, and various handwritten lists of equipment and instructional notes for a running a steamship. Total: (3) + (8) + (6) + (91) pages of entries. Dates on the loose leaves range from Nov. 20 1871 to Jan. 9, 1872. The logbook covers nearly the full year of voyaging from January through November, 1872. Good. Item #041363
Robert W. McCleery died in 1863, a casualty of the Civil War. The logbook was continued by his son, Robert McCleery. Robert W. does not clearly state his position aboard the "Ossipee." Internal evidence reveals that he executes the duties of a quartermaster, having charge of stores, rigging, supplies, and repairs. McCleery also has occasional command duties as when the ship's captain asks for his opinion based on his experience as a seaman. The main part of the logbook records the USS Ossipee's voyage that circumnavigates South America and returns to New York City. Ports of call are: Callao, Lima, Pisco, Chimbote, Paita, Valparaiso, Patagonia, Smyths Channel, Connors Cove Island. Eden Harbour, English Narrows; various anchorages in southern Chilean islands, Straits of Magellan, Rio de Janeiro, and New York. McCleery tells of shore visits at various South American ports, various gun and ship’s drills, duties onboard; crew changes, ship sightings, fishing expeditions, ship & shore visitations, occasional news from home in the U.S., the varied entertainments of seamen at sea and on shore, recording of winds & weather, miles made and the vicissitudes of a sailing ship making way at sea. He also notes survey duties; coaling of the ship at various locations; humorous incidents; courts martial of several men; fights and deaths on shore and aboard ship; a "man overboard" incident at sea, with the attempted rescue documented here, resulting in one seaman being awarded the Medal of Honor; much homesickness, including piteous sadness regarding the death of a child; sightings of various birds, fish, and whales; the “Cape Region”; storms, damage, repairs and upkeep to the ship; native peoples; storm snowflakes “as large as a man’s hand” and cold so severe that ink needs to be warmed before writing; taking aboard a shipwrecked crew & chief officer; the appearance of the King of Brazil at Rio harbor; and other noteworthy daily events. // Random excerpts follow. Sept. 30, 1871 "At daylight I arrived in New York [from Washington], hungry and tired with one dollar in my pocket, just enough to pay for my baggage. ...Went to the Navy Yard where I soon filled my pocket with a hundred dollars. Then to Pier 42 ... At 1:30 Steamed out." Oct. 8, 1871: "U.S. Mail Steamer Henry Chauncey. This is the last day on board this Steamer and now at sundown the land is in sight, so early in the morning we will be in port...." Oct. 9, 1871: "Aspenwall....At an early hour I heard the engine bells sounding....I find the place looking about the same as when I was last here. 'All aboard' at 8, and away we go for Panama...." Oct. 10th: "Panama....the old Aspenwall Hotel is in ruins having some years ago been burnt down...." Oct. 11th: "The Minstrel troup which came from New York...gave a sort of performance in the Hotel parlor...." Oct. 31: A man who killed a Mail Steamer officer was brought ashore at Panama City. "...but as the severest penalty is seven years in the 'chain gang' with an every day opportunity to escape...." Nov. 10: He is aboard the Mail Steamer "Peru" bound for Callao, along with an elephant and other exhibition animals, etc. Dec. 21: Anica.... May 25, 1872: Guanapia Islands...Many Chinese enslaved there in the shipping industry. May 30: Ordered home to New York. Half the crew got drunk...fights, etc. June 20: H.K. Smith fell overboard from the flying jib boom, and he could not swim. Seaman Benson jumped in to save him, but couldn't. McCleery (our journalist) lowered a boat and rescued Benson. August 1-4: Smyths Channel, Connors Cove Island. "...All night it blew a living gale of wind so hard that at times all our engines could do would not keep our head to the wind, and once or twice we fell off, and but for a lull in the gale we would have been dashed on the rocks of this cold horrid coast...." September: at Rio...visited the Casino... most beautiful scenery....Missed the boat & slept at the United States Hotel. Plenty of fleas. Master Adams suspended for being a.w.o.l. Rum did it. Oct. 3-8: At sea. Chief Boatswain's Mate is busted in rank. John Sullivan is sentenced to 30 days in irons, on bread and water. Nov. 17: Finishing 54-day voyage. "Saw many sails...took a New York Pilot (Grant President)." // [All of the foregoing text is neatly written on folio leaves of unlined paper. The text picks up again on folio leaves of lined paper, then continues into a bound "Lett's No. 31 Journal" through the year 1872. The pages of manuscript are interleaved with blotter paper, as issued. Random entries follow.] Dec. 25th, 1871: USS Ossipee - Anica - Merry Christmas to all - thoughts of Little Addie temper his enjoyment. Dec. 26: Sailed out of the Port of Anica. Dec. 29th: Coast of Peru, &c. January, 1872-February 7: Daily entries at Callao, Peru. Feb. 8-13: At sea, daily entries. Feb. 14-15: Entries at Pisco, Peru. The journal continues through 1872 with much detail on life at sea and in various ports, the Straits of Magellan, Rio de Janeiro, South Atlantic, North Atlantic, &c., &c. // Accompanied by: McCleery's carte-de-visite, showing him seated in his US Naval uniform. / An AT&Telegram, with envelope, addressed to Perry B. McCleery, dated at New York, May 1, 1861: "Arrived on twenty fifth. I am Union. Write or telegraph. R.W. McCleery, Stevens Hotel." / AT&T Telegram, with envelope, addressed to Perry B. McCleery, dated at Philadelpia, Aug. 17th, 1862: "Will be home tomorrow." / Three-page letter to Master R. McCleery, Baltimore, Md. from his sister, Caroline B. McCleery, with news of family and friends, travel, marriage, social life, &c. Integral address leaf; small hole from wax seal. / Handwritten table, "Dimensions of Sheaves in Lower and Top Sail Yards." / List of measurements of Ship's Articles (3+pp, folio) giving sizes of various masts, sheets, halliards, buntline, bowline, &c., &c. [NOTES: Mark Twain also traveled aboard the Pacific Mail Ship Company's "Henry Chauncey" in 1868, enroute to California. The USS Ossipee was in Union Naval service, a sloop of war launched in 1861, decommissioned in 1891. When McCleery wrote this log, the Ossipee was on South American cruising duty, protecting American interests, carrying 141 officers & enlisted men.].