10,000 Items Catalogued

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Almost exactly one year ago today, staff member Aya Eto brought to your attention a project we had then just begun in earnest, a project to catalog 10,000 items relating to the construction, service, destruction, legacy, and research on the U.S. Steam Battery Monitor and the C.S. Ironclad Virginia. You can read what she wrote here and see a few of Jacob Nicklis’s letter’s home to his father. Nicklis died in the foundering of Monitor off Cape Hatteras in 1862.

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An Old Claim

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The CSS Alabama was sunk by the USS Kearsage, but not before causing considerable damage to the American merchant marine. From The Mariners’ Museum collection.

Hello readers, and welcome back to the Library blog. Many of the posts on this blog over the past few months have concerned the SS United States. While this blog will by no means abandon the proud ship as a subject matter, it will nonetheless begin to focus on a new topic: Maritime Piracy. Piracy is an issue that comes up frequently in our news, especially in the past few years. Just yesterday, naval forces from France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands worked together to catch numerous pirates that had stolen boats and taken hostages in the Gulf of Aden. Read the full article HERE!

 During the American Civil War, the Confederates deployed several small ships of war as commerce raiders, bent on damaging the Union’s trade routes. Since the Confederate government was not officially recognized by the United States government, these commerce raiders were seen as pirates by Union ships. Perhaps no raider is as famous as the CSS Alabama, a British-built sloop-of-war that terrorized Union shipping all over the world. In fact, First Mate Joshua P. Atkins from the T.B. Wales filed an insurance claim for his lost property when the CSS Alabama captured and burned his ship on November 8th 1863.   Read more

New Library Exhibit

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When the Civil War began, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a blockade of the southern coastline along the Atlantic and in Gulf of Mexico to interrupt vital flows of supplies to the Confederacy.  More than five hundred ships manned by one hundred thousand sailors served on the blockade by the end of the war.  Through its sheer size and objectives, the blockade became one of the most extraordinary undertakings by the U.S. Navy.

Be sure to stop by the Library and check out our new exhibit,  “Blockaders and Blockade Runners: The Union Blockade during the Civil War,” which highlights the people, ships, and events that made the blockade the scene of dynamic action throughout the Civil War.  The exhibit opens on January 9, 2012 and will run through May 2012.

New Civil War letter

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We recently unearthed another Civil War letter in our archives.  The letter was written by Charles Pye to Colonel Thomas Millar on October 4, 1862.  In the letter, Pye requests that his slave, oxen, and cart be returned to him after they were confiscated by Union cavalry.  Pye lived near Port Tobacco, Maryland and his slave was caught transporting supplies to a landing on the Potomac River in an apparent attempt to send them across the river to Confederates in Virginia.  A Union cavalry patrol seized Pye’s slave, cart, and oxen.  This letter represents Pye’s attempts to have his property returned to him.

Pye’s letter opens up many questions regarding the confiscation of slave property by Union forces.  This is especially true considering that Pye lived in Maryland which never seceded from the Union.   Read more

Two Lives Aboard the USS Nantucket

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USS Nantucket in a post-Civil War image.

Join us at the Library next Wednesday May 4, 2011 at noon for our next Secrets in the Stacks.  This month’s presentation will feature two journals kept by sailors who served on the ironclad monitor Nantucket during the Civil War.

First we will look at the journal of Walter Jacobs, a Union sailor during the Civil War.  A recent acquisition, Jacobs’ journal covers the time period of August 1863 to December 1864, during which he served on two ships: the screw steamer Flambeau and the Passaic-class monitorNantucket.  Jacobs served on the ironclad from February 1864 to December 1864.  Besides accounts of naval action, Jacobs offers rich detail on life aboard Civil War ships and ironclads, as well as a sailor’s opinion on everything from the Union war effort to politics to African Americans serving in the Union navy and army.   Read more