Parthian and the Pirates

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“H.M. Sloop Parthian Capturing a Spanish Pirate.” Watercolor by Nicolas Cammillieri of Malta, circa 1825-1830. (Accession# 1951.763.01/QW750)

This week, while trying to identify prints in our collection that showed dghasa, a beautiful little craft native to Malta, I stumbled across a really interesting watercolor painted by Nicolas Cammillieri. The artwork is titled “H.M. Sloop Parthian Capturing a Spanish Pirate.” The computer record didn’t contain any information about the event depicted but I figured there must be an interesting story behind the artwork–and I was right!

It all started when Lloyd’s List reported that on May 15, 1824 two British merchant vessels, the brig Pilgrim of Greenock, captained by J. Wilson1 with twelve crew, and the barque Shannon, captained by 31-year-old Isaac Peart with sixteen crew, had sailed together from Campeche, Mexico for Bristol and Cork but neither had arrived at their destination.  They were believed to have foundered in the Atlantic Ocean with the loss of all hands.    Read more

Naval Intelligence in Hampton Roads: 1861-1862

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CSS Virginia.
The Mariners’ Museum.

There was no formal naval intelligence system established during the American Civil War. While a few examples exist of Northern sympathizers, free Blacks, like Mary Louvestre of Portsmouth, sent messages to various Union commanders about the Confederate ironclad construction effort. These links were unofficial and were generally between one Union officer and an individual. The Union nor the Confederacy needed to rely on such clandestine methods since Northern and Southern newspapers provided ample information, usually in a boastful manner. Each antagonist simply needed to obtain a copy of The New York Times or Mobile Register to gather all they needed to know about ironclad development. 

Union intelligence was able to receive valuable knowledge about the construction and impending attack of CSS Virginia. The information appeared to flow back and forth across Hampton Roads. On October 6, 1861, Major General John Ellis Wool, stationed at Fort Monroe as commander of the Union Department of Virginia, wrote to Lieutenant General Winfield Scott:   Read more

Conquering the (never really conquered) Wild

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Conquering the Wild (Accession # 1934.0629.000001) seen from the Lions Bridge. Image credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Anyone who has traversed The Mariners’ Museum and Park’s Noland Trail, or visited the Lions Bridge, has passed by one of the Museum’s largest artifacts: Conquering the Wild. Arguably less remarked upon than the iconic Lions seated just yards away, Conquering the Wild is nonetheless a staple in the history of the Museum and iconic in its own right.

Like the Lions, Conquering the Wild was designed in clay by Anna Hyatt Huntington and scaled into Indiana limestone by Robert Baillie.   Read more